BENJAMIN MARK COLE
Demand for workers in Los Angeles County will rise to its highest second-quarter level of the 1990s, according to a report by Manpower Inc., the temporary employment agency.
About 25 percent of Los Angeles companies plan to increase their payrolls in the second quarter, and only 7 percent plan cutbacks, according to the survey, which was released last week.
The bulk of companies 68 percent anticipate no employment changes, or are unsure of their hiring strategy for the second quarter.
This compares favorably to a year ago, when only 21 percent of local companies planned to add staff, and 17 percent voiced plans to trim their work force.
This year’s second quarter is the third-best quarter, in terms of hiring plans, in the 1990s, according to Manpower.
Not only is there a higher percentage of L.A.-area companies planning to hire now than at any other second quarter in the 1990s, but lay-off plans are at their lowest second-quarter level of the 1990s.
While recent Manpower surveys are encouraging, some caution should be used in interpreting their results, said Mary Stewart, a Manpower spokeswoman.
For example, it could be smaller companies that are hiring, and larger companies that are firing. If that were the case, local overall employment levels might not necessarily rise layoffs could be in the dozens or hundreds at larger firms cutting back, while small companies could be hiring in ones and twos.
In general, companies surveyed are the better-established ones in every region, said Stewart. Newer, start-up companies are generally not surveyed, she said.
The most bullish hiring plans were found in Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Francisco.
Los Angeles was ranked with Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.
Below Los Angeles were New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, Miami and Dallas.
The survey comes at a time of brewing controversy among local economists and analysts as to the amount of recent job growth in Los Angeles.
In the bullish camp, some economists assert that local job rolls are expanding at a 2 percent annual clip, or more, while bearish observers place the figure at around 1 percent.
A pending revision of 1996 payroll data of companies based in Los Angeles County, based on unemployment compensation tax forms filed by employers, might add fat to the fire. The revision is expected to be released some time in March, according to state Employment Development Department analysts.