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FORTMILL, S.C. -- Citigroup said Thursday that it is laying off 150 workers at its Fort Mill, S.C., operation, for a total of 17 percent of the people employed there.

The nation s third-largest lender by assets employs 900 at the Fort Mill site at 605 Munn Road.

The eliminated positions were in mortgage loss mitigation, Citi said. In general, lenders have such operations to work with homeowners whose mortgages have become troubled. In some cases, that results in a lower mortgage payment.

New York-based Citi said the layoffs are part of a companywide cost-cutting plan announced in December. In that announcement, Citi said that it planned to slash 11,000 jobs worldwide.

Citi s Fort Mill announcement comes as lenders nationwide are reducing their mortgage-related workforce as fewer home loans are becoming troubled and fewer homeowners are refinancing in the face of higher interest rates. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan was 4.37 percent in July, up from 3.41 in January but still low by historical standards.

On Wednesday, Wells Fargo announced that it s laying off 284 employees in Charlotte as the bank trims its mortgage work force amid declining demand for refinancings. The San Francisco-based lender said the layoffs were part of 2,323 job cuts being made companywide.

In June, Charlotte-based Bank of America told Texas regulators that it would eliminate roughly 400 jobs from a unit that services troubled mortgages, Bloomberg News reported. The cuts are expected to be completed by Sept. 30.

Banking industry observers say they expect lenders to announce even more layoffs, especially of workers who handled refinancings, as the refinancing boom comes to an end.

Citi s 165,000-square-foot Fort Mill operations center opened in 2005 as a facility to house customer service, collections and other workers for its consumer-credit business. The company relocated the operation from Charlotte.

Citi said it told the Fort Mill workers Wednesday that their jobs would be eliminated by the end of the year. The company said it will work with the employees to help them find jobs within Citi and with other employers.

We remain committed to the Fort Mill area, Citi spokeswoman Janis Tarter said in an email.

She said Citi employs approximately 1,250 people in South Carolina and 1,000 in North Carolina. A Charlotte-area employment breakdown was not immediately available.

Citi faced near-collapse in the financial crisis, resulting in the federal government giving it a $45 billion bailout.

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