Special Report

The Largest Employer in Every State

A diverse array of companies is essential for a state to maintain a stable and healthy labor market. Some companies, however, impact a state’s economy and labor market far more than others.

In almost every case, a state’s government is its largest employer. However, government employment is spread across various organizations. In each state, there is one company or public institution that employs the most people. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from a range of sources in order to identify the largest employers in each state.

There is a large variation in the number of workers that the largest employers in each state employ. This is due largely to states’ various population sizes. In Maine, the largest employer — Hannaford Supermarkets — employs only 10,000 workers. By contrast, in Texas, the largest employer — Walmart — employs more than 171,831 workers.

Click here to see the largest employer in every state.

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has an outsized impact on state labor markets.
Walmart is the only company to claim the top employer spot in more than one state. In fact, the nation’s largest retailer employs the most people in 19 states.

Educational and medical institutions also frequently top a state’s list of employers. The most common largest employer across the 50 states, after Walmart, is the state’s university system. Educational services dominate statewide employment in 16 states. Organizations operating in the healthcare sector are often major employers as well. Several of these are also part of a university system.

The largest employer in each state also tends to serve and employ people from the surrounding region, if not from across the nation. The total countrywide headcount for a number of these large employers often far exceeds the statewide headcount.

To determine the largest employer in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed employment figures for nonprofits and private and publicly held companies from company press releases, government data, business journals, local media reports, as well as statements from company representatives. For the purposes of our analysis, we treated state government employers like public universities as independent organizations, in keeping with how states frequently identify and compare company headcounts. Military bases were excluded from the rank. In most cases, employee counts for the various colleges, laboratories, and medical centers falling under a single university system were combined. This was because these systems frequently attribute employees from the university and medical centers together. However, when a spokesperson from the medical centers or universities identified the organizations as distinct employers, they were counted separately.

These are the largest employers in each state.

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