GE's WMC Mortgage Unit Lays Off 20% of Work Force

General Electric's WMC Mortgage unit is laying off 460 staffers across the United States, representing about 20% of its work force, spokeswoman Brandie Young said on Friday.

The mortgage lender has also stopped writing new loans to people who do not make down payments, she said.

"We've realigned our resources to be more consistent with today's market," Young said.

WMC is a major player in the subprime mortgage business -- companies that lend money to people with less-than-stellar credit. Subprime lenders have been hit by rising defaults of late and more than 20 have quit lending or gone bankrupt in the past year.

WMC is a unit of the Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate's GE Money division. While GE is best known for its heavy industrial businesses -- from making jet engines to light bulbs -- last year its consumer and commercial finance arms accounted for about 28% of the company's $163.39 billion in revenue.