Business

Top job growth leaders in Pierce County are warehouses and health care

The number of companies with 100 or more full-time employees in Pierce County stands at 244, up from 215 a year ago.
The number of companies with 100 or more full-time employees in Pierce County stands at 244, up from 215 a year ago. THE NEWS TRIBUNE

More and more warehouses are being built in Pierce County, and these companies are hiring hundreds of workers to staff them.

In addition, health-care companies — from local giants such as MultiCare Health Systsem and CHI Franciscan Health to smaller providers — are hiring to fill hundreds of job openings.

Those trends are unlikely to stop anytime soon, said Maddie Merton, vice president for business retention and expansion at the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

The board recently completed its major employers list — a who’s who of companies with 100 or more full-time employees. That number stands at 244, up from 215 a year ago.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord remains the county’s No. 1 employer with 60,100 employees — nearly 3,000 more than last year.

In all, 165,741 people work for one of these large companies, a 2.4 percent increase from last year.

Low vacancy rates for warehouse and industrial space have led some companies to build warehouse space without a tenant in mind, Merton said.

“The inventory doesn’t keep up with demand for the space,” she said. “That is partly because of market compression from Seattle. We are talking to companies that are looking south.”

NewCold is one of those companies. It’s finishing up a 130-foot-tall automated cold storage warehouse on South Orchard Street in Tacoma, a $50 million project.

The company could hire about 100 people soon and be on the major employers list next year.

“For a company to go from groundbreaking to grand opening to being on the major employers list in three years, that’s pretty rapid growth,” said Jenn Adrien vice president for communications at the development board

Its annual survey tracks how many full-time employees companies and institutions employ. This snapshot of Pierce County’s workforce and the businesses that employ them can be a useful recruitment tool for the board when it tries to woo other companies here, or get them to stay.

In the past five surveys, the top five employers in Pierce County have included JBLM, public schools, the state and the MultiCare Health and CHI Franciscan Health systems.

Amazon is the county’s 17th largest employer, with 1,400 workers between two warehouses, making the company the largest distribution employer in the county.

The list includes about 100 workers for United Parcel Service, but that soon will grow.

The company is opening a distribution warehouse on the Tacoma Tideflats, which could employ from 800 to 1,200 people. Once the warehouse is fully operational, UPS will be in the top 20 employers in the county, along with Safeway, Boeing and the Emerald Queen Casino.

Health-care companies with more than 100 workers grew by nearly 15 percent, to 20,214 jobs.

DaVita, which has announced plans to leave Tacoma for Federal Way within four years, is 22nd on the list, with 1,025 employees. This year’s tally includes workers for DaVita’s area clinics.

Top 10 employers in Pierce County

Industry

Organization

FTE

1

Military

Joint Base Lewis-McChord

60,100

2

Health care

Multicare Health System

7,439

3

Government

State of Washington

6,838

4

Health care

CHI Franciscan Health

6,528

5

Education

Tacoma Public Schools

3,541

6

Government

Pierce County Government

3,058

7

Education

Bethel School District

2,465

8

Government

City of Tacoma

2,251

9

Insurance

State Farm Insurance Companies

2,150

10

Education

Puyallup School District

2,124

Source: Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County

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