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A week's worth

Short takes on work and money from the past week.

That latest cut in federal interest rates helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average climb 0.6 percent last week – and 4 percent for September.

Squeezed by the high cost of borrowing and subprime mortgage foreclosures, Americans are using their credit cards as a stopgap, market researcher Synovate has found. The average revolving credit balance per household, it says, has risen $1,886 in the past four years to $6,970. Meanwhile, the average household has upped its number of credit cards from 2.4 to 2.8, which represents "significant growth" for a market that is considered to be saturated.

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Did you know that a poor credit score could cost you a job? Visa USA reports that, for many employers, looking into an applicant's credit history has become as routine as running a criminal background check. Visa polled 1,000 adults nationwide and found that 52 percent mistakenly thought such credit reviews were illegal.

Women (and those men) who have dropped out of the workforce to rear children represent an experienced and largely untapped pool of recruits for good jobs, says Challenger, Gray & Christmas. With unemployment low and baby boomers retiring in growing numbers, half of the personnel executives surveyed by the outplacement specialist reported that their companies have found stay-at-home parents to be easily retrainable. In fact, some companies have adopted keep-in-touch programs to stay as current as possible with their ex-employees on extended leave.