It was a long hot summer for some employees at Wachovia, Bank of America and First Union. But it wasn't just the sweltering summer temperatures that made people sweat.

Over the span of two months, the three banks announced that they would eliminate up to 17,000 jobs as part of cost-saving and restructuring changes. The dismissals, which are still going on, spread across the nation, but the economic impact will be greatest on North Carolina, where all three banks are headquartered. In Winston-Salem, for example, where the $72 billion-asset Wachovia Corp. is based, the city's workforce declined by 1.3% between April and September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the city of Charlotte's very low unemployment rate nearly doubled to 4.3% in recent months.

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