Nearly 88,000 mortgage industry workers have lost their jobs this year, according to the latest count by Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago outplacement consulting firm.And that's on top of the 100,00-plus who were let go in 2005 and 2006. More people were given pink slips in April - 33,781, to be exact - than in any other month. But as of Aug. 21, 20,957 have been cut loose this month and there are still 11 days to go. In the last week, more than 13,000 jobs were lost at Accredited Home Lenders, BNC Mortgage, Sun Trust, First Magnus, Countrywide and Capital One. With few exceptions, the cuts are directly related to the housing market, said CEO John Challenger. "Last week, the mortgage industry basically told their loan officers and call centers representatives to simply stop taking calls. They basically stopped on a dime." The financial sector isn't the only casualty of the slowdown. Realty companies announced 1,950 job cuts so far this year, the company said, but that doesn't include "hundreds, if not thousands" of independent agents who have simply stopped working because there are no buyers, Mr. Challenger said. Another big victim are construction companies, which have announced 19,670 layoffs, a figure that also is underestimated because most crews are small, independent contractors.

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