The latest nonbank mortgage job numbers rose further in July, but with signs of softening in broader employment during August, the trend may not be sustainable.

Hiring by lenders and brokers in the housing finance business set yet another record, rising to 391,400 from a downwardly revised 387,600 in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, the 235,000 August gain in the broader U.S. jobs number, which is reported with less of a lag, was the weakest since January. That drove unemployment down to 5.2% from 5.4%. (As in previous months, unemployment was subject to a misclassification error that may understate the number slightly.) Overall, employment last month was 3.5% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

What that means for the nonbank outlook depends in part on how well the imbalance between supply and demand for homes sustains wavering gains in the housing market. Construction got a small boost from contractor hiring in August.

“Residential building hiring was flat over the month, while specialty contractors added over 17,000 hires,” Mike Fratantoni, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in a press statement Friday. “This should continue to support builders’ abilities to sustain higher levels of new construction.”

Industry profit margins, which remain higher-than-average but show signs of normalizing, may also impact whether nonbank mortgage hiring continues at the same pace.

Nonbank mortgage originations and margins could potentially fall to 2018 levels by next year, according to a Moody’s Investors Service report released Thursday. In 2018, as much as one-third of companies in this category were unprofitable, Moody’s estimates.

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