November 29, 2018

2018 Major Employers List Press Release

Pierce County WA economic development EDB major employer

259 Qualify as Pierce County’s Major Employers in 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2018 – Tacoma, WA

The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County has published its 2018 Major Employers list – a list of the top employers in Pierce County, WA. This year’s list identifies 259 Major Employers, each of which has 100 or more full-time equivalents (FTEs). The employers included on this year’s list represent 163,205 jobs.

Building on last year’s growth trend, Pierce County’s major employers added thousands of FTEs to their payrolls. Companies qualifying for the Major Employers List for the first time include Wayne’s Roofing (152), Light Dental Studio (133), Insulation Northwest (128), Tactical Tailor (120), Lakewood Ford (102), Trident Seafoods (101), and P.M. Testing Laboratory (100).

Largest Private Employers (primary firms/non-retail)

Primary businesses are firms that export goods or services out of Tacoma-Pierce County and import new dollars into the local economy.

Health care service providers continue to be Pierce County’s largest private employers. MultiCare Health System (7,705) and CHI Franciscan Health (6,786) retain their previous years’ positions. State Farm (1,637), Boeing (1,550), DaVita (1,184), Milgard Manufacturing (990), Kaiser Permanente (755), Columbia Bank (704), Toray Composite Materials America (565 tie), Regence (565 tie) round out the Top 10 spots. Download list of 2018 Top 10 Private Employers

Top 10 Largest Public Employers

As the State’s second-largest employer, the United States Military (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) remains Pierce County’s largest public employer with 53,000 FTEs. The State of Washington (7,621), City of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Utilities (3,591), Puyallup Tribe and Emerald Queen Casino (3,312), Pierce County Government (3,089), and United States Postal Service (1,336) retained their places in the Top 10. Public instruction is a large source of employment in the County, and four of the top places are held by school districts: Tacoma (3,333), Puyallup (2,190), Bethel (2,028), and Clover Park (1,446). Download list of 2018 Top 10 Public Employers

Health Care Services

With a workforce over 21,900 strong, the local health care and senior services industries are second to none in the private employment sector, representing roughly 13% of FTEs reported by companies participating in the 2018 survey. Evergreen holders of the top two places on the list – MultiCare Health System (7,705, +3.6%) and CHI Franciscan Health (6,786, +4%) – are the largest providers of health care services. Washington Gastroenterology (420, +41.9%) became the largest gastroenterology practice in the State following a merger completed on January 1 of this year.

Other providers that qualified for this year’s list include: DaVita (1,184, +15.5%), Kaiser Permanente (755), Aacres (587), TRA Medical Imaging (450), Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare (340), Life Care Centers of America (299), and Cascade Eye & Skin Centers (250).

Manufacturing and Food Processing

Washington State’s investments in Pierce County’s manufacturing sector paid dividends in 2018. The EDB facilitated the Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF) applications of Wilcox Family Farms (162, +20%) and James Hardie Building Products (180, +57.9%), helping them to expand their employment counts by benefitting from the Governor’s SRF grants. When SRF awardees AIM Aerospace (380) and Bradken (230) complete their capital projects and ramp up hiring in 2019, Pierce County’s manufacturing sector can expect continued expansion.

The Economic Development Corporation of Pierce County, which is staffed by the EDB, makes tax-exempt bond financing available to employment generating manufacturing facilities. Tool Gauge (132, +1.5%) and SeaTac Packaging (95) each took advantage of the Industrial Development Revenue Bond financing program, a trend we expect to increase along with interest rates. Both companies will announce hiring rounds in the new year.

Boeing’s Frederickson plant remains the County’s largest aerospace manufacturing employer, reporting 1,550 FTEs. The EDB has been participating in the statewide coalition working to win the new mid-market aircraft (NMA) production in anticipation of Boeing’s request for proposals.

Other manufacturing and processing firms that qualified for this year’s list include: Milgard Manufacturing (990), Toray Composite Materials America (565), Manke Lumber Company (428, +7%), WestRock (420), Aero Precision (390), Bellmont Cabinets (320), Mission Foods (265), and newcomer P.M. Testing Laboratory (100).

Transportation, Trade, and Logistics

With over 8,100 jobs related to transportation, trade, and logistics, Pierce County’s strength in this sector continues. Planned and recently-completed projects in Lakewood, DuPont, Sumner, and Tacoma indicate confidence that there is additional capacity in the County.

Amazon’s two distribution centers (1,200) make it the largest distribution employer in the County. Other major employers in this sector are the Pacific Maritime Association (1,028), Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (457, +17.2%), Port of Tacoma and Northwest Seaport Alliance (265), US Foods (260), Associated Petroleum (210), Olympic Eagle Distributing (210), and U.S. Oil and Refining (197).


Overall, the construction sector was up, and Absher Construction (300, +47.8%) moved into the top spot after another year of substantial growth. Wayne’s Roofing (152) and Insulation Northwest (128) are newcomers to the Major Employers List. The Rush Companies (125) and Korsmo Construction (103) remain key players in the sector. Companies such as Fastenal (165, +26.9%) and Tacoma Screw Products (147, +4.3%) ensure reliable access to the supply chain while TrueBlue (443) connects employers to the workforce.

Note that these numbers do not include temporary construction workers who may be employed for months when mobilized for specific projects, often in succession.

Finance and Insurance

State Farm (1,637), Regence (565, +13%), Coordinated Care (275), and Propel Insurance (120) are the County’s major insurance employers.

Columbia Bank (704, +13.5%), headquartered in Tacoma, completed its acquisition of Pacific Continental Bank and remains the largest bank on the list. Sound Credit Union (289, +5.1%), Harborstone Credit Union (245, +2.9%), Heritage Bank (178, +9.2%), America’s Credit Union (169, +3%), and J.P. Morgan Chase (142, +29.1%) reported employment gains as well.

Other qualifying financial institutions are KeyBank (292), Wells Fargo (234), U.S. Bank (184), Umpqua Bank (145), and Bank of New York Mellon (120).

Shop, Hike, and Play Like the Mountain Is out

People are attracted to Pierce County for its abundant recreational opportunities. The Emerald Queen Casino (2,165, +4%), Metro Parks Tacoma (512), Crystal Mountain (300), Hollander Investments (242), Rainier Guest Services (135), and Mount Rainier National Park (135) connect residents and visitors alike to the County’s diverse offerings.

Restaurants chains The RAM Restaurant & Brewery (230), Farrelli’s Pizza (203), and Olive Garden Italian Kitchen (147) are the largest food service retailers with full-service restaurants.

Safeway/Albertsons (1,680) continues to lead the retail pack but Fred Meyer (1,364) reduced the margin with the opening of a new retail store. Costco (632) and Lowe’s (426) also opened new locations, mirroring the County’s population growth. Walmart (1,192), Target (772), Home Depot (706), Robert Larsen Automotive Group (496), REI retail location and distribution center (486), and O’Reilly retail locations and distribution center (397) represent the largest retailers in Pierce County. Automotive retailer CarMax (120, +20%) added staff at a rapid pace.

Retailers Fred Meyer, REI, and O’Reilly’s have both distribution centers and storefronts within Pierce County borders.

Mid-sized Companies

Dozens of the businesses responding to the survey had fewer than 100 FTEs, our cutoff for major employers. These firms are important players in our economy and employ thousands of people across all industries, from aerospace manufacturing to technology services, non-profits to logistics companies.

While not an exhaustive list of every mid-sized company in Pierce County, these firms are examples of hundreds of similarly-sized businesses.

A sampling of these mid-sized companies and sectors in alphabetical order:

Anthem Coffee & Tea (retail food service), APA – The Engineered Wood Association (nonprofit trade group), Baxter Manufacturing (manufacturing), City of DuPont (government), First Citizens Bank (banking), Gray Lumber Company (retail), Kidder Mathews (professional services), NewCold (logistics), Pallet Services (manufacturing), PNJ Machining (aerospace manufacturing), Quality Stamping & Machining (aerospace manufacturing), SENFCO Communications (communications), Service Steel Aerospace (aerospace manufacturing), Tacoma Glass (manufacturing), Westwood Shipping Lines (logistics)

Top 10 Largest Private Employers (primary firms/non-retail)

Primary businesses are firms that export goods or services out of Tacoma-Pierce County, importing new dollars into the local economy. Download list of 2018 Top 10 Private Employers. 

  1. MultiCare Health System
  2. CHI Franciscan Health
  3. State Farm
  4. Boeing
  5. DaVita
  6. Milgard Manufacturing
  7. Kaiser Permanente
  8. Columbia Bank
  9. TIE:
    • Toray Composite Materials, America
    • Regence

Top 10 Largest Public Employers

Pierce County is home to JBLM, the State of Washington’s second-largest employer, which contributes $9.2 billion to the local economy every year.  Download list of 2018 Top 10 Public Employers.

  1. Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  2. State of Washington
  3. City of Tacoma (includes Tacoma Public Utilities)
  4. Puyallup Tribe (includes Emerald Queen Casino)
  5. Pierce County Government
  6. Tacoma Public Schools
  7. Puyallup School District
  8. Bethel School District
  9. Clover Park School District
  10. United States Postal Service

Private Employers with Significant Growth in 2018 

These companies reported a 5% or greater year-over-year increase in their workforces. Download list of 2018 Fastest Growing Employers.

  • +57.9% James Hardie Building Products
  • +47.8% Absher Construction
  • +41.9% Washington Gastroenterology
  • +29.1% J.P. Morgan Chase
  • +26.9% Fastenal
  • +20% CarMax
  • +20% Wilcox Family Farms
  • +17.2% Burlington Northern Santa Fe
  • +15.5% DaVita
  • +13.6% Northwest Door
  • +13.5% Columbia Bank
  • +13% Regence
  • +11.4% Superior Linen Service
  • +11% PABCO Roofing Products
  • +10% Weatherly Inn
  • +9.6% Carlson Paving Products
  • +9.2% Heritage Bank
  • +8.7% Western Institutional Review Board
  • +8.4% Pexco
  • +8.3% Infoblox
  • +7% Manke Lumber Company
  • +5.1% Sound Credit Union


  • We asked companies to report their full-time equivalency (FTE), not an employee headcount.
  • Companies reported in person, via phone, via email, and via online surveys.
  • In cases when a company was unable to provide the FTE, we asked for a headcount and the full-time/part-time employee breakdown.
  • We assumed that part-time workers average 0.5 FTE.
  • When retail and food service companies reported a headcount, we assumed that half of the employee count is comprised of part-time workers and calculated those at 0.5 FTE.
  • Estimated FTEs are based on industry averages where indicated by the “±” symbol on the full list.
  • We do not calculate year-to-year comparisons for companies that do not report in consecutive years, nor for those whose figures are based on industry averages.

Available for Download

About the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County

Founded in 1978 as a private nonprofit, the EDB focuses its work on recruiting new primary firms to Pierce County, retaining those that are here, and helping all of them expand. The EDB supports companies to create new jobs and to grow the economy of the South Sound and Washington State. In the past two decades, the EDB has worked with companies that have made over $1.6 billion in capital investments and created over 25,000 jobs.


Media contact

Jenn Adrien

Vice President for Communications

[email protected] | 253.284.5888


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