Nonbank mortgage hiring flattened in September

Non-depositories in the housing finance industry generally saw their payrolls plateau in September after a slight dip the previous month.

The total estimate for mortgage banker and broker jobs inched up just slightly to 390,700 from a downwardly revised 389,900 in August, according to the bureau that serves as a statistical resource to the Department of Labor.

Plans to taper rate stimulus could further discourage industry employment growth, depending on the extent to which decreased volume is offset by staffing needs driven by the shift toward more work-intensive purchase loans.

A surprisingly large increase in total U.S. jobs, which was reported with less of a lag than the mortgage hiring estimates, suggests Federal Open Market Committee officials could be considering an aggressive timetable for tapering, according to advisory firm Mortgage Capital Trading.

“Chairman [Jerome] Powell [has] reiterated how key the labor market would be in determining the central bank’s timeline for raising interest rates following the FOMC meeting earlier this week,” MCT noted in its market commentary for Nov. 5.

The addition of 531,000 non-farm jobs to the U.S. economy in October outpaced estimates closer to 450,000 and topped upwardly-revised figures for the previous two months. Those figures show employers added 312,000 jobs in September and 483,000 in August.

Unemployment fell slightly in October to 4.6% from 4.8%, but a lingering misclassification error suggests it may be overstated by as much as 0.1%. Prior to the pandemic, it was at a historic low of 3.5%.

Residential construction employment, including specialty trade contractors, grew by nearly 11,000 in October, marking an acceleration from September, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan noted, calling this “a welcome sign for a sector dealing with a backlog of orders.

“We believe this may help alleviate the supply constraints present in this sector,” he said in an emailed statement.

Although commercial construction is still running at a rate lower than what was seen before the pandemic, the pace of residential building is up 5.4%, Odeta Kushi, Fitch American’s deputy chief economist, noted in a separate email.

“The growth in the average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees in construction remains elevated at 5.2%,” she said.

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