IRVINE — Here's some more bad news from the recession front: A new survey estimates that companies in southern Orange County will need fewer office workers during the first half of 1992 than most other places in California.
That's the word from Thomas Temporaries in Irvine, which annually surveys employers' hiring plans.
The temporary-employment agency says 13% of the 1,845 employers it talked to across the state expect to need fewer office workers next year.
But there were even more gloomy employers in South County, which was relatively undeveloped until recently. South of the Costa Mesa Freeway, 17% of the employers interviewed said they expect to need fewer people next year.
Los Angeles was in the same range, as were Sacramento and the Temecula area.
On the other hand, the survey found that 20% of the California employers who responded planned to hire new office workers during the first half of next year.
Both halves of Orange County--the older, northern half and the southern half--were in the same ballpark. In North County, 19% of the 100 employers interviewed said they would hire more people next year, and in South County the figure was 18%.
California's most optimistic executives were found in the East San Francisco Bay Area, where 29% of those interviewed said they planned additional hiring.
Still, even though a fifth of the employers surveyed in California expected to do more office hiring next year, it was the lowest such number since the survey began seven years ago.
Also expecting better-than-average increases in hiring are Riverside County, the Temecula area, Contra Costa County and north San Diego County.
The margin of error in the survey could add or subtract as much as 3.5 percentage points to or from each of these figures. Even so, the survey paints a picture of executives across the state lying low for the second consecutive year while trying to figure out when the economy will turn up.
It was the same story in Orange County. Employers in the northern half of the county seem a little more optimistic this year, since five more out of the 100 or so surveyed were planning to hire more people than when questioned last year. But last year wasn't so hot to begin with in the county: It was the low point for North County in the history of the survey.
The leading jobs for those likely to be hired in North County: data-entry clerks, which 19% of the respondents said they planned to hire. Another 16% said they would hire general office clerks and 15% said they would hire accounting clerks.
In South County, there was more pessimism than in the last survey: Where 27% projected hiring increases a year ago for the first half of 1991, only 18% did so this year. The pollsters talked to 90 South County employers.
In greatest demand next year will be general clerks--11% of the respondents said they would hire some by next July--followed by receptionists with typing skills, in demand by 10% of the employers.
Thomas Temporaries says it's not really sure why the East Bay should have such an optimistic outlook, or why Los Angeles and south Orange County employers should have such downbeat ones.
"Just venturing a guess, I'd say there's a greater dependence on depressed industries like banking and aerospace in Los Angeles and Orange County," said Gene C. Wilson, president of the company.
As for the East Bay, "last year's outlook was so negative that this year's may be a reaction to that."
Thomas Temporaries provides temporary office workers to businesses around the state.
Demand for "temps" often goes up during a recession as some businesses are reluctant to hire full-time employees.
Clerical Hiring Plans
A survey of business executives at 191 Orange County firms found that the number intending to increase office staff was about equal to the number planning decreases.
Source: Thomas Temporaries