May 8 (UPI) -- More than 4 million American homeowners are past due on their mortgage, a figure that's been fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, industry data showed Friday.
The analysis by Black Knight's McDash Flash Forbearance Tracker said the figure is now 4.1 million U.S. homeowners.
Forbearance is a term indicating a special agreement between lenders and borrowers to delay a foreclosure. Payments were missed last month on 7.7 percent of all active mortgages.
The numbers are higher than federal regulators expected, but requests for forbearance have temporarily slowed, dropping in the fourth week of April to 0.6 percent of borrowers from 1.1 percent the week before.
"The share of loans in forbearance increased once again in the last full week of April, but the pace of new requests slowed," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "With millions more Americans filing for unemployment over the week, the level of job market distress continues to worsen. That is why we expect that the share of loans in forbearance will continue to grow, particularly as new mortgage payments come due in May."
In the past week, 225,000 more borrowers sought forbearance programs, Black Knight said.
"What remains an open question at this point is to what degree forbearance requests will look like at the beginning of May, when the next round of mortgage payments become due, and with nearly 30 million Americans newly unemployed in the last month," said Ben Graboske of Black Knight.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in the month of April.