Rising unemployment in states already hit hard by foreclosures helped boost mortgage-delinquency rates in the third quarter from the second, the Mortgage Bankers Association said yesterday.

Nine states had foreclosure-start rates above the national average of 6.99 percent: Nevada, Florida, Arizona, California, Michigan, Rhode Island, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The rest - Pennsylvania, New Jersey and 39 others - were below that average.

There were no year-over-year state comparisons provided, but the national increase was 1.4 percent from the third quarter of 2007.

The percentages are estimates and cover 85 percent of all mortgages outstanding.

The percentage of Pennsylvania loans on which foreclosure was started during the quarter remained unchanged at 0.64 percent, while the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the quarter rose eight-hundredths of a percentage point, to 2.06 percent.

Nationally, the percentage rose 0.58 points from the last quarter, to 6.99 percent.

Pennsylvania ranked 20th of the 50 states in delinquencies and 35th in foreclosures started during the quarter.

In New Jersey, the percentage of loans on which foreclosure was started during the quarter rose 0.01 of a percentage point, to 0.92 percent.

New Jersey ranked 29th in delinquencies, but 13th in foreclosures started in the quarter - reflecting, according to data providers such as RealtyTrac Inc., increases in delinquencies in the state's northern counties.

The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the quarter rose 0.36 percentage points, to 3.06 percent.

Contact real estate writer Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or aheavens@phillynews.com.