On the heels of an ailing economy have come massive job cuts in all U.S. markets in the recent months, and according to state unemployment data released Thursday, new jobless claims are still on the rise. But mortgage job losses have actually eased 25 percent in the fourth quarter, according to employment data tracked by MortgageDaily.com. Annual migration out of real estate also dropped -- by more than half. "As job losses worsened in other sectors, mortgage job losses began to ease," said MortgageDaily.com publisher Sam Garcia. "Federal Reserve purchases of mortgage-backed securities have recently pushed mortgage rates to record lows -- fueling refinance demand. In addition to an increase in the number of mortgage firms hiring, we have reported on at least one temporary employment agency seeking to fill thousands of positions." Garcia also noted a spike in loan modification firms that are actively recruiting former originators and mortgage brokers. Layoffs in the mortgage industry were 8,646 during the fourth-quarter 2008. After accounting for 925 new hirings, the net job loss was 7,721, compared to a net job loss of 10,233 in the previous quarter and 16,711 one year earlier. Fourth-quarter's results may indicate, according to MortgageDaily.com, a bottoming-out in mortgage-related layoffs. Nonetheless, California took the hardest hit of the quarter, experiencing the most mortgage job losses, followed by Minnesota and Florida. As for annual mortgage job losses, California came in at number one, with 8,133 losses.  Florida ranked second -- although, lagging far behind California -- posting 2,651 job losses. New Jersey was a close third with 1,661 mortgage job losses for the year. If analyzed by company, Residential Capital LLC and its affiliates saw the biggest quarterly loss of mortgage jobs, releasing 2,405 employees. Subsidiaries of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) had the second highest loss of mortgage positions, followed by Citigroup Inc. (C) and the companies it owns. Write to Kelly Curran at kelly.curran@housingwire.com Disclosure: The authors held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.