Bear Stearns Cos said on Wednesday it was cutting 310 jobs in its mortgage lending business, making the Wall Street bank the latest to lay off staff as a result of the lingering subprime mortgage crisis.

So far this year, Bear Stearns has cut its mortgage origination staff by about 40 percent, the company said.

The latest round of layoffs, part of a reorganization of its home lending business, are being made to increase efficiency and to scale its operations to current market conditions, said Bear Stearns.

U.S. banks and financial service companies with home lending units have cut tens of thousands of jobs so far this year, with some citing tightening credit conditions, or the need to cut costs after a steep drop in mortgage lending.

On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley said it will slash 600 jobs as part of a restructuring of its residential mortgage business, about a quarter of its home loan work force.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc said last month it would cut 850 jobs in the United States and UK, on top 1,200 jobs cut when it shut down subprime unit BNC Mortgage Corp.

Bear Stearns said on Wednesday it will combine its mortgage lending businesses -- Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage and Encore Credit -- into one unit, to be named Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage Corp.

Two months ago Bear Stearns cut 100 jobs at Encore Credit, a subprime lender acquired last October for about $26 million. Another 140 jobs were eliminated in August at Bear Stearns Residential, which funds risky subprime mortgages and Alt-A loans for borrowers with decent credit.

The crisis in the subprime lending industry in recent months crippled two hedge funds at Bear Stearns.

Bear Stearns shares were down $1.22, or nearly 1 percent, to $127.35 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Lilla Zuill; editing by Tim Dobbyn)