Total employment in the mortgage industry was flat in May, but the ground has been shifting over the past few months with brokerage firms hiring while other lenders have been cutting back, according to figures released Friday.   

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment in the mortgage banking and brokerage sector edged down to 266,500 full-time positions in May from 266,600 in April.

However, government figures show that brokerages have hired 6,000 employees since January while mortgage banking firms cut their payrolls by 6,100 full-time employees since March.

Overall, employment in the mortgage industry is down 1% from May 2011. (The residential finance jobs numbers lag that national ones by a month.)

Meanwhile, Friday's jobs report shows the U.S. economy created just 80,000 new jobs in June, up from a revised 77,000 in May. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2%.   

Surprisingly, employment in the construction industry was flat in May despite encouraging signs in residential construction.

Single-family starts are running 20% ahead of their year-ago pace (through May) and multifamily starts are up an impressive 45%, according to a new report from Wells Fargo Securities.  

However, this year's jump in construction activity started from a low base and housing starts will make only a "modest contribution" to economic growth this year, WFS economists said in their July 5 "Housing Data Wrap-Up" report for June. 

“Even with recent gains, new home sales and residential construction remains shadows of their former selves,” write the Wells economists.

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