More than 2,000 mortgage jobs have been eliminated this year, according to the Second-Quarter 2011 Mortgage Employment Index from But falling rates and worsening loan performance could lead to increased hirings in the second half.

The index, which reflects hirings and layoffs tracked by, was down almost 500 jobs in the second quarter. Nearly 5,000 hirings weren’t enough to offset more than 5,000 layoffs.

Still, the contraction was less severe than the first quarter. But activity swung from growth of more than 700 jobs during the same period last year.

Quarter Layoffs Hirings Net
Q2 2011 5,404 4,940 -464
Q1 2011 4,318 2,513 -1,805
Q2 2010 2,028 2,768 +740

Real estate finance positions in California were off more than a thousand jobs — the worst of any state. But Ohio’s gain of 800 jobs was the best performance.

State Q2 Net Gain/Loss
CA -1,078
PA -292
NC -276
OH +800
KY +400
MO +222

Nearly half of all layoffs tracked were at Wells Fargo, which cut mortgage fulfillment staffing and closed its reverse mortgage business.

More than half of all second-quarter hirings occurred at Chase, which hired hundreds in Ohio.

Company Net Gain/Loss
Wells Fargo -2,500
BofA -954
Kondaur -161
JPMorgan +2,585
USBank +394
MetLife +200

Hirings could pick up as rates have recently fallen to record lows — sparking a refinance rally and boosting demand for loan originators, processors and underwriters as well as other production personnel.

However, since some of the biggest lenders already made massive job cuts this year, this group might be reluctant to staff up too quickly. Instead, small- to mid-sized mortgage bankers and brokers are likely to quickly capitalize on the building refinance wave.

In addition, deteriorating delinquency and bloated foreclosure inventories could drive additional recruiting by mortgage servicers.

Department of Labor data indicate that mortgage jobs fell to 239,100 as of June from 244,700 at the end of the first quarter and 259,700 at the end of 2010.

The complete Mortgage Employment Index report — including full tables by state, year and company — is available at:

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Holly Himelright

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