The latest estimates of non-bank mortgage payroll estimates in the current Bureau of Labor Statistics dataset hit a series high for the fourth straight month, but were only marginally higher than the previous month.
At 361,800, there were only marginally more mortgage and brokerage jobs on the market in November 2020 than in the previous month when BLS figures show that 350,000 employees have been revised down. In November 2019, the salary estimate was 305,800. Employment in industry has been setting new 10-year records in the BLS series since August.
A slowdown in earnings, which can be temporary and possibly accompanied by a seasonal slowdown, is expected to follow as a surge in infections began to hurt consumer confidence in the housing market towards the end of 2020.
Anecdotally, mortgage lenders continue to show interest in hiring, saying that although projections for 2021 suggest the refinancing boom may ease this year, they have not yet reached the point where they no longer need to hire.
"I would say no one has caught up with the capacity in this market," said Kimberly Browne, president of Chrysalis Holdings, the parent company of New Day, a national lender headquartered in Fulton, Md., Referring to the Veterans Affairs Division.
Many lenders have added overtime to their existing teams, and the ability of many employees to work remotely without commuting has helped make it possible to do so longer than normal. But some teams are thin and that keeps people interested in hiring.
At the same time, with the potential for slowing down, companies are pursuing strategies to limit compensatory expenses and possible layoffs.
New Day, for example, may train more beginners to do this, Browne said. Underwriters in particular were in demand and can achieve high salaries. This was a particular focus. The company finds that the median amount spent on college graduates is one-third cheaper than hiring an insurer with a competitor, she said.
Interest in the mortgage industry continues to contrast sharply with a larger labor market that still has an unemployment rate well above that of the pre-pandemic. This may limit the number of borrowers who qualify for loans.
Overall unemployment, reported with a lesser delay than mortgage jobs, was 6.7% in December 2020, down from 4% in December 2019. Adjusted, the unemployment rate would have been 0.6% higher.
A total of 140,000 jobs were lost in the U.S. in December 2020, compared to 245,000 in the previous month and 145,000 in December 2019.
While the December 2020 number represents the first drop in employment since April and suggests that there will be "permanent economic scars," the prospects for residential real estate remain good, Odeta Kushi, US first deputy chief economist, said in a press release on Friday .
"Housing remains a bright spot in 2021," said Kushi. “Jobs in residential construction rose almost 1.1% in December compared to November and are now 0.8% above the level before the pandemic in February. Increasing the number of construction workers is essential to reduce the labor shortage challenge and the gap between household education and housing construction. More hammers, more houses. "