updated 7/22/2004 4:20:07 PM ET 2004-07-22T20:20:07

Washington Mutual said Thursday it will cut 2,500 jobs and close operations across the country as it tries to improve its struggling mortgage business.

The Seattle-based banking company said it plans to eliminate about 1,840 jobs as it closes approximately 100 retail lending and loan processing offices. The rest of the jobs will be eliminated when the company closes a mortgage loan processing facility in San Antonio, Texas.

The company said it expects to close most of the offices by the end of September, and the job cuts should be completed by the end of the year.

The cuts come as WaMu tries to boost its once-thriving mortgage business. The company said Thursday it wanted to "sharpen the focus of its retail mortgage lending channel."

"We are going to focus even more attention on the high-growth markets where we can gain additional leverage from the company's overall branding efforts," said Tony Meola, executive vice president of WaMu's home loan division.

The announcement came a day after the company said earnings had fallen sharply in the second quarter, due in large part to a drop in home mortgage loan income. The company reported earnings of $489 million or 55 cents per share for the three months ended June 30. That compares with earnings of nearly $1.02 billion or $1.09 per share in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding its consumer-finance division, which the company has since sold, WaMu would have had earnings of $995 million or $1.07 per share in the year-ago period.

The company said offices will close in Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

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