Mortgage rates will remain close to their current levels for the rest of the year, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America's chief economist told a press briefing Oct. 21 at the group's annual convention in San Diego.The average rate for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage stood at 6.0% at the end of the third quarter, and might slip to 5.9% in the fourth quarter, Douglas Duncan said. For 2004, there should be a modest rise to 6.5% by the end of the fourth quarter, and to 7.0% by the end of the fourth quarter of 2005, according to the MBA forecast. In the macroeconomic section of his presentation, Mr. Duncan said the mortgage industry added 150,000 to 200,000 jobs in past three years. Now that rates are rising, there will be some "transition out," but Mr. Duncan asked rhetorically how many of the new jobs had been filled by temporary workers. Such workers left industries that were in decline to fill the need in the mortgage industry, and now they will return to those industries, he said.

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