A Week's Worth

More spending: Consumers flocked to stores in September, boosting retail sales by 1.5 percent. That's the best showing since March. But the federal deficit hit a record $413 billion for fiscal 2004, which means Congress will have to raise the $7.4 trillion debt ceiling after next month's elections. On Wall Street, the Dow fell below 10000 for the 24th time since it first crossed that threshold five years ago.

Getting political: Better than 1 in 10 executives have been asked whom they would vote for during a job interview, according to a survey by executive job-search service TheLadders.com. It's not illegal during an interview, but federal, state, and local laws do protect employees from threats, discipline, retaliation, and rewards for their political decisions.

Hiring on hold: Nearly 3 in 4 small firms think business will grow over the next six months, according to American Express. But only a third plan to add staff - down from 46 percent in April.

Too cold to work? Turning down the thermostat from 77 to 68 degrees F. reduces office productivity. A Cornell University professor found that typing mistakes rose 74 percent while overall typing output fell 46 percent.

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