On the other side of the home-loan business, the number of American homeowners late on mortgage payments has reached an historic high. Statistics compiled by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America say that delinquency rates on 1- to 4-unit residential loans have reached a record high of 5.31 percent of all loans outstanding in the first quarter of 1981. This comes after two consecutive quarters of decreases.
Dr. Thomas R. Harter, MBA chief economist, attributed the increase to persistent unemployment. Much of the increase occurred in the northeastern central United States, where auto-related industries have laid off a substantial number of employees.