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The nation lost 2,000 mortgage jobs this year, but could see an uptick in hiring if low interest rates spark refinancing activity, according to the second-quarter 2011 Mortgage Employment Index. In the second quarter, the index reported a drop of nearly 500 jobs within the mortgage finance space. During the quarter, the industry reported 4,940 hirings, which were offset by 5,404 layoffs. California lost more than a thousand real estate financing positions, while Ohio gained 800 jobs, ranking first in terms of hiring performance, according to Mortgage Daily, which compiles the employment index. About half of second-quarter layoffs occurred at Wells Fargo (WFC) as it closed its reverse mortgage business and reduced staffing in mortgage fulfillment. More than half of the hirings occurred at JPMorgan Chase, which hired hundreds of employees in Ohio during 2Q. While hirings could pick up if a refinancing wave comes on the heels of low mortgage interest rates, large lenders may be less likely to pick up new staff, MortgageDaily said. Instead, the firm believes small to medium-sized banks and brokers will benefit from the coming refinancing wave. Hiring also could pick up on the mortgage servicing side as companies continue to deal with deteriorating delinquencies and growing foreclosure activity. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.

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