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Hiring Outlook Weak in California

Compared with rest of nation, more employers in the state intend to downsize workforce, survey shows.

June 18, 2003|Marla Dickerson | Times Staff Writer

Employers in California were more gloomy about their short-term hiring prospects than their counterparts in the rest of the nation, with companies in Los Angeles particularly pessimistic about adding workers in the next few months, according to a nationwide survey released Tuesday.

The quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of 16,000 U.S. employers showed that companies nationwide are in the worst hiring mood in 12 years. The survey found that 20% see an increase in hiring activity in the third quarter, while 9% expected reductions in their workforces. After adjustments for seasonal factors, only 6% of employers surveyed said they intend to do some hiring between July and December -- the weakest showing since the early 1990s recession.

"U.S. employers are still void of the business confidence needed to increase their employment projections," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and chief executive of Manpower Inc., one of the nation's largest suppliers of temporary workers. "Job seekers will continue to face difficulty."

Joerres cautioned that the data for the third-quarter outlook were gathered in April, when business owners may have been particularly jittery over the war with Iraq and the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic.

Still, the situation appears to look especially grim in California, where 20% said they would do more hiring in the third quarter and 13% reported plans to cut staff. In Central Los Angeles, more employers said they intend to downsize their workforces (27%) in the third quarter than expect to put additional workers on the payroll (15%).

Manpower's Los Angeles area spokesman Darin Meadows said a confluence of factors is weighing heavily on California's job market.

The state's crucial technology sector continues to shed jobs, with no sign of a rebound in sight. California's unprecedented budget gap means thousands of pink slips for teachers and other government workers. Manufacturing, a major employer in Los Angeles County, is still waning, while soaring workers' compensation premiums are motivating many employers to keep their payrolls as small as possible.

"A lot of our customers are holding steady or planning additional reductions in their workforces," Meadows said. "In California, it may be 2004 until we see any improvement in the job market."

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Job outlook

Employers in the Los Angeles area aren't optimistic about adding staff in the third quarter, especially those in the Central and Westside areas.

*--* Will Will Area add trim Long Beach/South Bay 21% 3% Central Los Angeles 15 27% Westside 15 23% Orange County 12 17% Riverside 33 10% San Bernardino 23 3% San Fernando Valley 12 3% San Gabriel Valley 23 3% Ventura/Santa Barbara 15 10% Southern California 21 13% California average 20 13%

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Source: Manpower Inc.

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