A Week's Worth

By a fraction of a point, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher Friday, the first time since last November that it has been on a three-week upswing. Still, some investors preferred to sit tight, awaiting what most analysts expect will be yet another increase in interest rates Tuesday by the Federal Reserve.

Watching the mailbox for a tax refund? If you're like most of the roughly 5,000 filers polled by online preparation service CCH CompleteTax since mid-January, you'll probably be thrifty with it. Forty-three percent said they'd pay down debt, 29 percent expected to save or invest the money. Only 6 percent said they'd splurge on something they've always wanted.

Next time a company announces mass layoffs, keep this in mind: Many affected employees end up returning to the same payroll. Right Management Consultants, a subsidiary of Manpower Inc., surveyed more than 14,000 "downsized" people and found that 13 percent were rehired by their former employers last year alone. For their part, 54 percent of employers said they take back such people, at least occasionally.

Hiring is on the increase, statistics show, but so are background checks of those applying for jobs. And what they're turning up is sobering, says ADP Employer Services, which alone screened 4.9 million people last year. Almost exactly half of those revealed an "inconsistency" in the educational, employment, credit, or legal histories of the applicants.

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