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REGION STILL IN THE ECONOMIC WILDERNESS

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay persists as one of the most financially distressed major metros in the country, ranking second only to Orlando in an analysis released by credit-counseling agency CredAbility. High unemployment, a struggling housing market and lower net worth are partly to blame. But the latest quarterly index notes that Tampa Bay is dead last among the top 30 metros with savings rate of 2.02 percent. The national average is 3.8 percent. CredAbility deems a healthy savings rate to be 7 percent. But, on a more promising note, an earlier report from credit bureau Equifax found Tampa Bay consumers were paying down their debt at a faster pace than most of the country in the third quarter.

In other areas, Tampa Bay ranked: -fourth most distressed in employment (an unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, up from 8.7 percent in the previous quarter).-fourth worst in housing (with mortgage delinquencies falling slightly).-sixth worst in credit scores.-fourth worst in net worth.

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Largo

Pinellas animal shelters join forces

Confronted with a some grim statistics about animals taken in and put to death, leaders of Pinellas County's three largest animal shelters announced a program to reduce the animals killed. SPCA Tampa Bay, the Humane Society of Pinellas and Pinellas County Animal Services are sharing animal intake and outcome statistics. The numbers, updated monthly on the agencies' websites, will provide a comprehensive account of Pinellas' homeless pet population, helping shelters see what's working and what isn't. "This matrix is a huge step forward for animals in our community," said Martha Boden, chief executive officer of SPCA Tampa Bay. The numbers released Wednesday account for about 80 or 90 percent of the county's animals in shelters, according to Boden. The key statistic officials want to improve is the "live release rate" - the percentage of animals shelters take in that leave for a good reason, like adoption or return to owner. The four shelters have a combined live release rate of 57 percent this year. Euthanasia policies at Pinellas shelters have sparked controversy. Both the Humane Society and SPCA Tampa Bay have been criticized by people who felt they projected the impression they were "no kill" shelters. Both shelters euthanize animals.

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Key West

Police: Man kills self after election

A Key West resident who police say was distraught over the presidential election results and worried about his business has apparently killed himself. Police say they found Henry Hamilton's body in his bedroom last Thursday, along with a living will with handwritten words "Do not revive! (expletive) Obama!" Two empty prescription pill bottles were in the dining room. Hamilton's partner Michael Cossey told Key West police he last saw Hamilton when they watched the election results together. According to the police report, Hamilton was upset and said, "If Barack gets re-elected, I'm not going to be around." Cossey says Hamilton was anxious about his tanning business. Authorities do not suspect foul play.

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