Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, said it had eliminated about 500 jobs nationwide as it tries to cope with a credit shortfall stemming from the U.S. housing downturn.

In an e-mail on Monday evening, Countrywide said the cuts came in its Full Spectrum lending division, which handles mortgages for customers who don't qualify for the best rates, and the subprime unit of its wholesale lending division.

Countrywide said it was still recruiting and hiring sales staff, but will take steps to adjust staffing levels, particularly in areas where the cost structure must align with production volumes.

The Calabasas, California-based company said it employed more than 60,000 people. Its work force totaled 61,586 at the end of July, up from 54,655 at year end, according to a regulatory filing.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)