Nonbank mortgage companies cut 6,300 employees from their payrolls in January following a 2,300 cut in the month prior as the demand for residential mortgages continues to falter.  

Employment in the mortgage banking/broker sector fell to 285,700 in January from 292,000 in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

This sector of the mortgage industry has cut 21,500 full time jobs since July when it was clear the refinance boom was over. Now mortgage lenders are hoping that purchase mortgage activity, which has been weak, will pick up soon.

In January, Fannie Mae purchased just $30.7 billion in mortgages from lenders, down from $73.4 billion in July.

Overall, the U.S. economy created 175,000 jobs in February, compared to an upwardly revised 129,000 jobs in January, according to BLS. Friday’s job report also shows that the unemployment rate edged up to 6.7% in February from 6.6% in January. (There is a one-month lag in the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting of mortgage employment data.)

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