JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ NationsBank Corp. expects to cut more than 6,000 jobs in Florida as it takes over Florida's Barnett Banks Inc.

Rusty Rainey, who leads NationsBank's merger transition, said Tuesday that a hiring freeze in effect since the merger was announced in August should mean that many of the jobs will be eliminated through attrition rather than actual layoffs.

Rainey did not say where the jobs will be cut, or when.

He said jobs would be added back to the Florida work force as the bank grows and some areas, such as Jacksonville where NationsBank's Florida operation will be based, are expected to see an increase in jobs.

Rebecca Rust, bureau chief for Labor Market Information in Florida, said Wednesday the strength of the Florida economy should be able to absorb a loss of that size without affecting the state's jobless rate.

Some analysts had predicted that NationsBank would eliminate as many as 10,000 jobs because the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant promised Wall Street investors a 55 percent cost savings from the Barnett acquisition.

When the deal was announced in August, Jacksonville-based Barnett had about 22,000 workers in Florida and NationsBank had about 9,000.