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Friday, Sep 29, 2023


While many of L.A. County’s aerospace workers have lost their jobs in recent years, the industry is still made up of some of the area’s largest private-sector employers.

In addition, the number of aerospace workers in L.A. County has begun to stabilize, a positive sign after the massive layoffs experienced in the early ’90s.

Topping the List of the largest private-sector employers is Hughes Electronics Corp., with 22,000 employees the same number of workers employed by Hughes last year.

Hughes, however, may lose its No. 1 ranking on next year’s List if the announced sale of the company’s defense units to Raytheon Co. is completed as expected by the third or fourth quarter of this year. Marcy Garber, a spokeswoman for Hughes, estimated that about 11,000 workers are employed by those units.

Another aerospace company, McDonnell Douglas Corp., came in at the No. 2 spot, employing 20,000, only slightly fewer than Hughes. This number also remained unchanged from last year’s number of employees.

“We have been pretty stable since ’94,” said Don Hanson, a spokesman for McDonnell Douglas. “We have done some hiring, some recalls of people.”

Hanson, however, is reluctant to predict the employment outlook at the company. “We don’t try to forecast. It is not possible to see any major trend in any direction,” he said.

Taking up three of the other top six slots on the List are Northrop Grumman Corp., TRW Space & Electronics Group and Boeing North American Inc.

Boeing and TRW both saw an increase in their number of L.A. County employees, while Northrop cut back about 1,900 local employees since last year.

Northrop’s drop was a result of declining business in military aircraft orders, said Jim Hart, a company spokesman. “We will continue to lose work on the B-2 Bomber program,” said Hart. “It’s at about 6,600 (workers) now. By the end of the decade, it will be down to about 2,500. Most of those will remain in Palmdale. Pico Rivera (the other B-2 facility) will close in 1999.”

Banking is another industry that has scaled back employment in L.A. County.

Bank of America saw a drop in its workforce, from 7,906 full-time employees a year ago to 7,360 today. This moved BofA from the No. 5 spot last year to No. 10 on this year’s List.

Linda Mueller, a Bank of America spokeswoman, said some of the cutbacks can be attributed to the bank’s consolidation trend. “We have had some consolidation, as the rest of the industry has,” she said. “The bank has streamlined operations. It has centralized a lot of operations and a lot of functions.”

Mueller also noted that many of the bank’s employees are part-time, a number not counted by the List. Mueller said the bank employs a total of about 15,000 part- and full-time workers in L.A. County.

The other financial institution on the List, Irwindale-based H.F. Ahmanson & Co., parent of Home Savings of America, also reduced its L.A. County work force, going from 4,198 employees a year ago to 3,322 today.

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