Mortgage Job Losses Surpass 40,000
Associated Press/AP Online
By IEVA M. AUGSTUMS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - At the North Carolina offices of mortgage lender HomeBanc Corp., Archie Clark is the only employee left. But in a few days, he’ll be gone, too. When Clark finishes helping movers from the company’s Atlanta headquarters collect computers and other property, he’ll join the more than 25,000 workers nationwide who have lost jobs in the financial services industry since the beginning of the month - with more than half coming since last Friday.
With few exceptions, the cuts are the direct result of woes in the nation’s housing market.
More layoffs are announced daily. On Wednesday, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. closed its “subprime” mortgage business, laying off 1,200 workers at 23 offices; Scottsdale, Ariz.-based 1st National Bank Holding Co. closed its wholesale mortgage unit and cut 541 jobs, and Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. added 1,600 positions to the heap. The night before, banking giant HSBC said it would close a main financing office and cut 600 jobs.
Since the start of the year, more than 40,000 workers have lost their jobs at mortgage lending institutions, according to recent company layoff announcements and data complied by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Meanwhile, construction companies have announced nearly 20,000 job cuts this year, while the National Association of Realtors expects membership rolls to decline this year for the first time in a decade.
It’s an employment collapse that threatens to rival the massive layoffs in the airline industry that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when some 100,000 employees lost their jobs.
“It’s far from over,” said Bart Narter, a senior analyst with Celent, a Boston-based financial research and consulting firm. “The subprime lending collapse will continue to ripple through the financial sector.”
For five years, the nation’s housing market was booming and mortgage companies grew quickly, at times offering lucrative jobs to people with little experience. But as home values declined and interest rates rose in the past year, rising delinquencies and defaults - especially in subprime mortgages targeted at borrowers with risky credit - have pounded lenders who couldn’t keep pace.
What do you guys think this means for us and our future as REI or does it mean anything at all?