Looks like the Tampa Bay area's staying on the job diet this year.
A new forecast says we will thin down by 42,900 more jobs by the end of this year. That's on top of the more than 30,600 jobs lost in 2008.
Along the way, the area's unemployment rate will increase to 8.9 percent by year-end from 7.3 percent in late 2008.
This year, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater's job losses will be second in size in Florida and No. 12 nationally among metro areas. Only the far larger Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area will lose more jobs this year — 84,800, ranking No. 3 in losses in the country.
The Tampa Bay area's losses will be much larger than those forecast for Orlando or Jacksonville.
"The decline in the labor market is severe," says a nationwide report called "U.S. Metro Economies: The Engines of Economic Recovery" issued by the private economic forecasting firm Global Insight. Employment nationwide fell nearly 500,000 per month in the last four months of 2008, it said.
Look for similar losses through the first quarter of 2009. December marked the 12th consecutive month of job cuts, and the cumulative payroll decline now stands at more than 2.5-million.
"We believe that is just halfway to the total job loss anticipated during this cycle," said the Global Insight forecasters.
The grim report was released at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, where economic discussions focused on how best to use the coming stimulus package being assembled by Congress and the new Obama administration.
Combined, the 20 metro areas in Florida included in the analysis will lose 199,929 jobs this year. Palm Coast, located south of St. Augustine and north of Daytona Beach, is expected to have the highest unemployment rate of the state's top 20 metro areas at year-end: 13.6 percent.
Nationwide, among the 363 metro areas analyzed, only three (Anchorage, Alaska, St. George, Utah, and McAllen, Texas) will add jobs this year. Even those three areas will pick up only a paltry 900 jobs.
The report expects the unemployment rate, now 7.2 percent nationally, to rise above 9 percent by early 2010, the highest level since the early 1980s.
If the Tampa Bay area appears to be taking it on the chin with an 8.9 percent unemployment rate by year's end, other metro areas in Florida face even tougher outlooks. Unemployment in such areas as Cape Coral-Fort Myers will rise to 11.2 percent from 9 percent, to 9.3 percent from 7.5 percent in Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, and to 11.6 percent from 9.2 percent in Punta Gorda, Global Insight says.
Unemployment will rise to above 10 percent in 70 metros, including California's recently booming Riverside-San Bernardino area, and in long-struggling Detroit and Cleveland, says Global Insight. Los Angeles, Denver and St. Louis will be among the 105 metros with joblessness above 9 percent. And 297 metros will see jobless rates rise by more than 1 percentage point in 2009.
Here's a brighter side: You don't live in Modesto or Fresno, Calif., where unemployment rates are expected to rise to 16.1 and 15.1 percent, respectively, by the end of 2009. Those rank among the highest in the nation.
Robert Trigaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.