December 7, 2017

2017 Major Employers of Pierce County

December 7, 2017 – Tacoma, WA

248 Qualify as Pierce County Major Employers

The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County has published its 2017 Major Employers List – a list of the top employers in Pierce County, WA. This year’s list identifies 248 Major Employers, each of which has 100 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). The employers included on this year’s list represent 166,348 jobs.

Top 10 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 providers are Pierce County’s largest private employers, claiming four of the Top 10 spots. MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health retain their previous years’ positions with 7,439 and 6,528 FTEs, respectively. State Farm (2,150), Boeing (1,575), Amazon (1,400), DaVita (1,025), Milgard Manufacturing (1,000), Kaiser Permanente [formerly Group Health Cooperative] (755), Columbia Bank (620) and Aacres (600) round out the Top 10.

Top 10 Largest Public/NGO Employers

The United States Military (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) remains by far the County’s largest public employer with 60,100 FTEs, up from 57,120 last year. The State of Washington (6,838), Pierce County Government (3,058), City of Tacoma (2,251), and U.S. Postal Service (1,421) all reported staffing increases, as did the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 (1,500).

Starting this year, the EDB will track and report school districts individually, which is reflected by the Tacoma (3,541), Bethel (2,465), Puyallup (2,124), and Clover Park (1,390) School Districts’ first-time showing in the Top 10.

Health Care and Senior Services

With a workforce over 20,214 strong, the local health care and senior services industries are second to none in the private employment sector. MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health continue to report strong employment counts. Combined, the two largest health care providers employ more people than the rest of the entire health care and senior services industry in Pierce County. Other major health care firms that qualified for this year’s list include: DaVita (1,025), Kaiser Permanente (755), Aacres (600), Korean Women’s Association (375), Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare (340), Digestive Health Specialists (296), Tacoma Lutheran Home & Retirement Community (290), and Avamere Health Services (264).

Were it not included in the State of Washington employment count, Western State Hospital would have appeared in the Top 10 with 2,300 FTEs. Keeping in mind CHI Franciscan and MultiCare’s new 120-bed behavioral health facility coming online in 2018, behavioral health will be an area to watch for continued expansion.


Overall, manufacturing firms in Pierce County held steady this year. Boeing’s Frederickson plant reported 1,575 employees, down from their 2016 count of 1,750. The Boeing Company recently held a series of hiring fairs to expand its workforce in the Puget Sound. The company released the first images of the new 797 at the 2017 Paris Air Show, and in September created a program office to oversee the 797’s possible development. The EDB is part of a statewide coalition working to win 797 production.

Other manufacturing and processing firms that qualified for this year’s list include: Milgard Manufacturing (1,000), Toray Composite Materials America (560), WestRock (420), AIM

Aerospace (380), Bellmont Cabinets (350), Mission Foods (265), Concrete Technology (250), Manke Lumber Company (240), and Bradken (235).

Distribution and Logistics

Distribution and logistics are booming, and remain significant employment sectors in the Pierce County economy. Amazon’s two distribution centers (1,400) make it the largest distribution employer in the county. Other major employers are McLane Northwest (440), Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (390), US Foods (260), FedEx Freight (250), Associated Petroleum (201), Gensco (200), Southern Wine & Spirits (200), and U.S. Oil & Refining (195).


On the aggregate, Pierce County’s construction firms saw their employment base remain relatively steady compared to 2016; however, Northwest Cascade (310) and Absher Construction (203) each grew substantially, holding onto their 2016 rankings of 1 and 2, respectively. Tucci & Sons (200) claimed the third spot in the list. McFarland Cascade (175) reported growth in their 2017 employment counts.

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 continues to lead the insurance sector with 2,150 employees between their Tacoma and DuPont campuses. Regence (500), Coordinated Care (275), and Propel Insurance (110) represent the region’s other major insurance employers.

Columbia Bank (620), headquartered in Tacoma, completed its acquisition of Pacific Continental in November 2017 and remains the largest bank on the list. Heritage Bank (163) announced plans to acquire Puget Sound Bancorp, with the deal expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2018.

Other major employers in the sector are KeyBank (300), Sound Credit Union (275), Harborstone Credit Union (238), Wells Fargo (225), U.S. Bank (184), America’s Credit Union (164), Umpqua Bank (145), Bank of New York Mellon (123), J.P. Morgan Chase (110), and Bank of America (100).


With an estimated 1,848 FTEs, Safeway continues to lead the retail pack. Three of the largest retail employers also have distribution centers within our borders, adding jobs that support the industry. Walmart (1,192), Fred Meyer’s retail locations and distribution center (772), Target (772), Home Depot (706), Costco (600), Robert Larsen Automotive Group (496), REI retail location and distribution center (486), O’Reilly retail locations and distribution center (397), and Walgreens represent the largest retailers in Pierce County.

Other Highlights: New Major Employers & Mid-sized Companies

Following last year’s growth trend, Pierce County’s major employers added thousands of FTEs to their payrolls. Notable newcomers to the 2017 list are: Digestive Health Specialists (296), Yusen Logistics (130), and New Sound Transportation (100).

Sixty 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 manufacturing to technology services, from non-profits to retailers.

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

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

AHBL (professional services), BCRA (professional services), Belina Interiors (manufacturing), Cascades Sonoco (manufacturing), CB Richard Ellis (real estate), Infoblox (technology), Kidder Mathews (real estate), Medallion Foods (food manufacturing), Niagara Bottling (manufacturing), Omada International (aerospace manufacturing), PNJ Machining (aerospace manufacturing), Quality Stamping & Machining (aerospace manufacturing), RSM (professional services), SeaTac Packaging (manufacturing), Service Steel Aerospace (aerospace manufacturing), and Targa (distribution).

Top 10 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.

  1. MultiCare Health System
  2. CHI Franciscan Health
  3. State Farm
  4. Boeing
  5. Amazon Distribution Centers
  6. DaVita
  7. Milgard Manufacturing
  8. Kaiser Permanente (formerly Group Health)
  9. Columbia Bank
  10. Aacres

Top 10 Largest Public/NGO Employers

  1. Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  2. State of Washington
  3. Tacoma Public Schools
  4. Pierce County Government
  5. Bethel School District
  6. City of Tacoma
  7. Puyallup School District
  8. International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23
  9. S. Postal Service
  10. Clover Park School District

Private Employers with Significant Growth in 2017

Sample list based on percentage growth over 2016.

  1. Regal Logistics
  2. Kemper Sports
  3. Northwest Door
  4. Avamere Health Services
  5. Coordinated Care
  6. Northwest Cascade
  7. Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare
  8. Parametrix
  9. Heritage Bank
  10. Pexco

About the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County

Founded in 1978 as a private nonprofit, the EDB focuses its work on recruiting new 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 contacts

Jenn Adrien

Vice President, Communications

[email protected] | 253.284.5888


Maddie Merton

Vice President, Business Retention & Expansion

[email protected] | 253.284.5891


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