The hot streak of mortgage industry hiring takes a turn

The long run of monthly increases in non-depository mortgage job estimates seen since last year underwent a slight reversal in May.

Nonbank mortgage lender and broker payrolls fell to 385,900 last month from a downwardly revised 386,500 in April, according to latest Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.

The plateau in non-depository hiring estimates reported Friday follows anecdotal accounts of mortgage-related reorganization by banks and nonbanks in the past week,

CFBank on Thursday reported that it is winding down its direct-to-consumer mortgage division to refocus on traditional retail; and Homepoint, a nondepository that lends primarily through the wholesale channel, introduced a new service model centered on regional hubs Monday.

Margin compression and increased market competition drove the change at the bank. (Depositories generally have been more cautious about participating in the recent mortgage boom than non-depositories.)

Meanwhile, broader U.S. employment numbers, which are reported with less of a lag than mortgage industry estimates, surged in June, with U.S. companies adding 850,000 jobs.

In addition, residential construction employment — including specialty trade contractors — jumped by 15,200 in June. That suggests jobs in this sector are moving at “a more robust pace than in recent months,” according to Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan.

Unemployment surprisingly reversed its recent drop and rose slightly last month to 5.9% from 5.8%, but it was driven in part by a large gain in the number of people who voluntarily quit their jobs. (Unemployment may be underestimated by as much as 0.2% due to an ongoing BLS misclassification error.)

Those voluntary departures may be “a strong signal of the labor market recovery” as it suggests these individuals are confident they can find more attractive jobs elsewhere, Duncan said in an emailed statement.

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