Six of the biggest private-sector employers in the San Fernando Valley area, including five companies that perform defense work here, made modest cuts in their local work forces over the past year, a Times survey has found.
But the survey, which tracked employment during the year ended June 15 at the biggest corporate employers in the area from Burbank to Camarillo, did not turn up any major local layoffs of permanent personnel. Most of the work-force reductions reflected attrition or cutbacks in temporary workers because of the winding down of contracts.
GTE Shows 72% Rise With Move
The biggest percentage gainer on the top 10 list was GTE Corp., with a 72% increase to 4,770. The company rose from eighth last year to sixth this year because of shifting its General Telephone of California headquarters from Santa Monica to Thousand Oaks.
Others with increased employment were two health-care organizations, Blue Cross of California, which has its Southern California headquarters in Woodland Hills, and St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. MCA, which has its studios in Universal City, also showed a slight gain.
Two major mergers were reflected on the top 10 list. General Electric joined the rankings last month by acquiring RCA, which owns the NBC studios in Burbank. General Motors' purchase of Hughes Aircraft in December boosted the company from fourth to second place.
The six companies showing declines include five--Lockheed, GM, Rockwell, Litton and ITT--that list the Pentagon as a major client for some of their Valley divisions. The other firm with declining employment, GE, is mostly in the television business here.
Despite the cutbacks, the defense industry remains the biggest employer in the Valley area, followed by high-technology companies, according to the Bureau of Business Services and Research at California State University, Northridge.
No computer companies, however, finished among the top 10. In addition, Allied-Signal, parent company for several Bendix divisions, and Northrop, with its Newbury Park unit, finished just out of the running. Each firm employs about 1,900 in the Valley area.
The top 10 private-sector employers account for more than 8%, or 61,000 employees, of the area's work force of 740,000. Government workers, who weren't included in the survey, make up another 10%, said David Hornbeck, the CSUN bureau's director of business research.
Lockheed remained by far the biggest employer in the Valley area, with 16,160 employees, most at the Burbank manufacturing facilities of its Lockheed-California Co. subsidiary. The defense giant, however, also reported the biggest percentage reduction in employment, nearly 6%.
Many Cuts Because of Attrition
Company spokesman Nick Durutta said Lockheed-California has slowly cut its staff through attrition because it ended production of the L-1011 commercial airliner in August, 1983. From 1984 to 1985, the company showed a 1% decrease.
Lockheed moved its headquarters from Burbank to Calabasas last month, relocating 300 staffers. Some clerical workers, who chose not to make the move, were given positions in Burbank, Durutta said.
Lockheed-California makes defense products exclusively, including its search-and-destroy anti-submarine aircraft, the P-3 Orion, which is flown by the U.S. Navy. It also makes high-flying reconnaissance planes, such as the TR-1, which first were delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1983.
GM moved to the No. 2 ranking by acquiring Hughes Aircraft, which was ranked seventh in 1985. Hughes Aircraft divisions accounted for much of GM's employment decline this year of less than 1% to 8,927.
The Hughes Missile Systems Group in Canoga Park, which does preliminary design and prototype development, lost 57 workers over the year, leaving it with a staff of 3,428. Employment at the company's Radar Systems Group in Van Nuys dropped by 10 to 190.
Mike Murphy, a Hughes spokesman in El Segundo, said the changes are relatively insignificant and probably stem from the progress of projects.
Nearly half of GM's Valley-area employees as of June 15 worked at the company's Van Nuys auto assembly plant. However, on July 7, the plant's entire second shift was cut indefinitely and 2,190 workers were laid off. The plant makes Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds.
GM is shifting 65 of its workers from its Chevrolet zone office in Santa Monica to a new regional office in Thousand Oaks.
Rockwell, ranked third this year with 7,159 workers, attributed its 4% employment cutback to attrition. Three years ago, the company merged its 1,100-worker Energy Systems Group, which performs research for utility companies, into its Canoga Park-based Rocketdyne division, and the unit has slowed hiring since.
Rocketdyne, which makes and maintains the main engines for the space shuttle and is developing the fourth stage of the Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile, reduced its work force by 317, to 6,709.
Rockwell Has Slight Gain