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UNEMPLOYMENT STEADY, BUT EXPERTS SAY WORST IS TO COME

In the bay area, the September jobless rate didn't increase, but October looks more dire.

Tampa Bay area unemployment held steady from August to September at 7 percent, but economists warn of an uptick in October based on the financial sclerosis infecting the nation's economy.

"The magnitude of the hardening of those credit arteries is fairly extensive and pretty traumatic," University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said.

"Unemployment rates are going to continue to rise across the state into 2009 and into 2010. Unemployment tends to be a lagging indicator. It will continue to get worse even as the economy starts to turn the corner.''

On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the nonseasonally adjusted jobs numbers for hundreds of metro areas across the country.

The bay area wasn't the worst off. In Sarasota-Bradenton, unemployment jumped from 7.3 percent to 7.5 percent from August to September.

North Florida continued to outperform the state as a whole. Unemployment declined by the largest margin in Gainesville, where the rate went from 4.9 percent to 4.6 percent. Tallahassee's rate dipped from 5.3 percent to 5 percent.

The Tampa Bay area lost 22,700 jobs in the year that ended in September.

James Thorner can be reached at jthorner@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3313.

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