‘Twas the forecast before Christmas and all through the state, those wishing for a booming economy would still have to wait.

Foreclosure signs were hung in the yard with great care, in hopes that a buyer soon would be there.

Across the state, Floridians were snug in their beds – more than half with a mortgage over their heads.

This ode to the holiday classic “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is found in the latest Florida economic forecast released today by Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness.

“There’s no holiday miracle here,” Snaith said. “But there are some signs of hope, such as projected growth in retail and gross state product.”

Snaith’s forecast offers predictions through 2013 for Florida and its 12 metropolitan regions. Those areas are Naples, Daytona Beach-Deltona, Gainesville, Ocala, Lakeland, Palm Bay-Melbourne, Pensacola, Miami, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Tampa Bay and Orlando.

The full forecast and Snaith’s poem can be found on the IEC website.

Highlights in the report include:

— Next year should mark the beginning of a long, slow and steady decline in unemployment. The emphasis is on “slow” – it may be 2020 before we see unemployment fall below 6 percent again.

— The sectors forecasted to have the strongest growth during 2010-2013 are: Professional and Business Services (7.5 percent); Trade, Transportation & Utilities (2.6 percent); Education and Health Services (2.6 percent); Manufacturing (0.9 percent); and Leisure & Hospitality (0.9 percent).

— After two years of contracting, Real Gross State Product will expand 3 percent in 2010; 2.6 percent in 2011; and 4 percent in 2012.

— After a wobbly start in 2010, retail sales should finish stronger for the year. Retail sales will accelerate in 2011 and 2012, and they will grow at an average pace of 5.7 percent during 2011-2013.

Snaith is a national expert in economics, forecasting, market sizing and economic analysis who authors quarterly reports about the state of the economy. Bloomberg News has named Snaith as one of the country’s most accurate forecasters for his predictions about the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate, the Federal Funds rate.

Snaith is also a member of several national forecasting panels, including The Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, CNNMoney.com’s survey of leading economists, the Associated Press Economy Survey, the National Association of Business Economics Quarterly Outlook Survey Panel, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, Bloomberg U.S. Economic Indicator Survey and USA Today Economic Survey Panel.

The UCF Institute for Economic Competitiveness’ mission is to expand public understanding of the economy by convening business leaders, scholars, policy makers, civic groups and media to discuss critical issues.