Schwarzenegger tells California officials to halt hiring

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued a message to top officials in his administration: Stop hiring.

The governor summoned agency secretaries and department directors after The Bee reported Monday that the size of the state work force overall remained essentially flat from January 2009 through June of this year.

Schwarzenegger did not order an official hiring freeze. But he wanted "to reiterate that we should not be hiring unless absolutely necessary," said the governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear.

The Bee's report analyzed payroll data from the state controller's office covering an 18-month period that included 17 months that state workers were furloughed a total of 46 working days. One furlough day equals a roughly 5 percent monthly pay cut.

During that time, the state hired nearly 23,000 workers. About 10,000 of them were full-time hires, roughly half the number of employees who retired from state service. The rest were part-time and temporary workers. Many of those jobs ended during the period reviewed.

Schwarzenegger's meeting with high-ranking state officials may have a short-term impact, said Michael Shires, a state budget expert at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy: "After all, he's still in charge," he said.

But long-term, the state's hiring practices are tied to the 2010-11 budget, now 63 days overdue from the beginning of the fiscal year.

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