December 1, 2018

2018 Major Employers List

2018 Major Employers keep growing jobs

We’re building on a trend we’ve seen since 2014. Pierce County job numbers are holding strong across industry sectors, with regional companies adding thousands of full-time employees to their payrolls.

The EDB’s 2018 Major Employers List, spotlighting companies with more than 100 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees, identified 259 qualified employers compared to 248 in 2017. Employers listed this year represent 163,205 jobs.

Topping the list are familiar faces:Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), the State of WashingtonMultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health. The quartet has led the pack since 2012. Puyallup Tribe/Emerald Queen Casino is back in the Top 10 this year.

The EDB welcomes other new additions to this year’s Major Employers’ List: InfobloxInsulation NorthwestLight Dental StudioP.M Testing LaboratoryTactical TailorTrident Seafoods and Wayne’s Roofing.

Job growth across sectors

Twenty-two Pierce County companies that provided data this year and in 2017 reported at least 5 percent expansion of their workforces, with 15 posting double-digit increases over last year. James Hardie Building Products and Absher Construction top the list, a solid indicator construction and the demand for building materials are on the rise.

Health care still strong

With more than 21,900 FTEs, health care and senior services continue to top the list of private employers in Pierce County, representing around 13 percent of FTEs reported by companies participating in this year’s survey. The jobs keep growing at MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health, the list’s top-two placeholders. The organizations collectively employ nearly 14,500 FTEs.

Washington Gastroenterology also saw a substantial jump in FTEs this year following a merger in January that made it the largest gastroenterology practice in Washington State.

Investment in manufacturing, food processing paying off 

The EDB facilitated the Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF)applications of Wilcox Family Farms and James Hardie Building Products. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s SRF grants will help the companies expand employment counts. SRF awardees AIM Aerospace and Bradken plan to complete capital projects and ramp up hiring in 2019.

The Economic Development Corporation of Pierce County, staffed by the EDB, makes tax-exempt bond financing available to employment-generating manufacturing facilities. Tool Gauge and SeaTac Packaging took advantage of the Industrial Development Revenue Bond (IDRB) financing program, a trend we expect to increase along with interest rates. Both companies plan to announce hiring rounds in 2019.

Other trends

  • Transportation, trade and logistics keep moving.New and recently completed projects in Lakewood, Sumner and Tacoma show there’s additional capacity in Pierce County. Amazon continues to be the largest distribution employer in the county, with 1,200 FTEs at its DuPont and Sumner distribution centers.
  • We’re playing, hiking and shopping like the Mountain is out. People want to live in and visit Pierce County for its abundant recreational, dining and shopping opportunities-from Emerald Queen Casino gaming and entertainment, to fun and games through  Metro Parks Tacoma, to soaking in the wonder via Crystal MountainRainier Guest Services and Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Smaller companies big part of economy. Last year the EDB began including mid-size companies on the Major Employers List. Dozens of businesses with fewer than 100 full-time employees opted to provide data this year. These important players in our economy employ thousands of people across all industry sectors.

Watch for coverage of the 2018 Major Employers List in an upcoming issue of South Sound Business and the November 30 edition of The News Tribune.


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