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Washington Mutual to Cut 2,500 Loan Jobs

Times Staff Writer

Mortgage industry cutbacks continued Wednesday as Washington Mutual Inc. said it would close 10 of its 26 home-loan processing centers, eliminating 2,500 jobs, including 600 positions in Chatsworth.

The cuts represent about 4% of a workforce of 60,000 at Seattle-based Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest savings and loan and third-largest mortgage lender. Other home-loan specialists, including Countrywide Financial Corp. in Calabasas and Ameriquest Mortgage Co. in Orange, also have eliminated positions in recent months as the mortgage market has cooled.

In a statement, Washington Mutual said the move in part reflected its effort to better match its processing capacity to “current and anticipated mortgage market conditions.” The lender recently reported that its mortgage revenue in the fourth quarter was down 47% from the third quarter, and spokesman Timothy J. McGarry said the company expected an additional “modest reduction in demand” this year.

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But the principal reason for the loan-processing cuts, McGarry said, was a previously announced program to cut costs by relocating back-office jobs to a smaller number of less-expensive areas. As part of that program, Washington Mutual last month told 1,000 employees at a call center in Chatsworth that it would move their jobs to Texas and Costa Rica.

The loan-processing jobs are mainly clerical, analyst and support positions. The Chatsworth facility is one of three California locations being closed; about 200 workers will lose jobs in Campbell, Calif., and 100 at a unit to be eliminated in Stockton. Loan processing centers will remain in Irvine, San Diego, Sacramento and Pleasanton.


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