week ended Oct. 20. In fact, borrowers are applying at almost double the year-earlier rate. But when it comes to hiring personnel to deal with the increased volume, mortgage bankers have been learning to do more - in some cases much more - with the same or fewer employees. "The Bank of New York is a lean mean machine," said Marci Shapiro, senior vice president of mortgage banking for the Bank of New York in Manhattan. Although volume has increased for this wholesale lender, Bank of New York has not hired any additional personnel, she said. The company has upgraded its personnel, hiring an experienced person from outside the company when a position opens. All in all, the mortgage staff is "all pretty busy," she said. The number of people employed by the mortgage banking industry was 232,000 in August 1995, down from a peak of 273,000 in April of 1994, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America says. David Lereah, chief economist with the trade association, reports that hiring is "starting to pick up again," from a low of 222,000 in April of this year, but "there was a lot of overcapacity in 1994, he said. Mortgage bankers did a trillion dollars in business in 1993, which plummeted to 770 billion in 1994, and 640 billion projected for 1995, Mr. Lereah said. "They can certainly handle additional volume without hiring," he declared. Technology has also played a role in keeping the number of employees down. "Our business continues to become more efficient and automated," said Doyle Bradsher, senior vice president of First Tennessee Mortgage in Memphis. Although origination volume has increased substantially, through both acquisitions and general business gains, First Tennessee has not increased its loan approval staff, Mr. Bradsher said. "We're able to do greater volume with less people," he asserted. Mr. Lereah projects that mortgage bankers will continue to be conservative in their hiring practices, with some step-up in personnel if rates dip down to 7%. "These companies have been through it before, and they'll be through it again," he added. "They learned a little more this time than they did last time, than they did the time before that."
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