About 37 percent of September job cuts were connected to the housing industry, which continues to slump, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Housing-related layoffs totaled 26,465 during September, while overall layoffs for the month totaled 71,739.

The consulting firm considers mortgage lenders, construction companies and real estate firms the industries that make up housing-related sector.

Nevertheless, job cuts were 28.5 percent lower during September than last year, when there were 100,315 job cuts. Job cut announcements so far this year totaled 587,594, 8.1 percent fewer than the 639,229 in the first nine months of 2006.

Challenger said declining home prices and an increase in delinquencies and defaults among borrowers has wreaked havoc on the real estate market this year, especially in the past couple of months.

For the January-September period, about 17 percent of job cuts nationwide were directly related to the market slowdown. Housing-related layoffs accounted for less than 2 percent of job cuts during the same period a year ago.

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Mortgage lenders have accounted for nearly 70,000 job cuts through the first nine months of the year, more than all other financial services firms combined.