Job estimates for non-bank mortgage lenders and brokers have risen again in the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
There were around 318,000 people employed in the industry in June, up nearly 1% from the previous month and nearly 9% from the previous year, the office said. The BLS also revised the mortgage numbers up slightly from 314,300 to 315,000 in May. Last June, 292,000 people were on the payroll of the non-bank mortgage industry.
The June hiring appears to reflect the continued need to adjust capacity to meet interest rate demand.
"I want to go back to a normal funding cycle. Additional staff will help," said Stan Middleman, CEO of Freedom Mortgage, a national non-bank that announced a plan last month to hire 3,000 people.
Managing financing capacity in the mortgage industry can be tricky because demand is highly rate-dependent and difficult to predict. However, there are ways to fix this.
Freedom is working to subcontract some of the work that may be temporary and to hire people to fill positions that support longer term needs.
"I understand our business is interest rate sensitive and we certainly have busier things to do than in the past, but we have taken a number of steps to ensure our employment group is more stable," said Middleman.
Lower employment levels across the economy are one recruitment opportunity for the mortgage industry, Middleman said.
Freedom aims to attract college graduates by offering them training that includes a management track. The company also uses its referral network to find potential employees who are seasoned professionals.
Overall, US jobs, which were reported less delayed than the mortgage industry estimated, rose 1.8 million in July and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2%.
By comparison, total employment increased by 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate was 11.1% in June.
Before the coronavirus hit the US, the unemployment rate was closer to 4%.
A misclassification error that underestimated the unemployment rate between March and May has been minimized in the past two months, according to the BLS. This mistake underestimated unemployment by no more than 1%.
At a similar pace as total employment, employment in the housing industry continued to rise in July – but the gains were not as strong as the previous month.
In July, 24,000 employees were hired in this segment, including specialist retailers.
"While employment growth in the sector has slowed from last month's report, it is a [welcome] sign of an industry grappling with supply shortages," said Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, in a press release.
Both banking and non-bank mortgage lenders are closely monitoring the housing supply in their hiring decisions, as some availability is required to support the volume of purchases.
Purchase credits are generally less interest-dependent than the currently booming refinancing. As such, lenders want to be sure that they have stable homebuyer deals in the event that the incentive to refinance wears off.
"The problem we are watching right now is inventory," said Steve Kaminski, director of residential lending for TD Bank. "Construction has stalled a bit, but we're seeing some of it coming back."