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Jobs, economy to take spotlight at presidential debate

Stagnation keeps 30-year mortgages below 6%

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Job creation in September remained on the thin side, and mortgage rates are still safely in the fives – 5.75 percent on the lowest-fee 30-year deals. Payrolls grew by only 96,000 last month, and half of that total comprised low-octane hires by government. Other data were similarly tepid, and the Fed has given its first hint that it may pause after the next couple of .25 percent hikes in the Fed funds rate. Tonight's debate will include a great deal of employment posturing, with John Kerry pointing to weakness in September, and President Bush taking credit for the 236,000 jobs added in the same report by "benchmark revision" to the March 2003-March 2004 interval. Inclusive of that revision, the economy has added 1.8 million jobs in the last 18 months, only 100,000 per month, barely enough to cover population growth, and no up-trend is in evidence. The economy is not doing as well as Bush will claim tonight, and without a series of tax increases and cuts in spending and benefit...