The Largest Employer in Every State

May 2, 2016 by Mike Sauter

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.

1. Alabama
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 37,537

Providing jobs for more than 37,537 people as of March 4th, 2016, Walmart is the largest employer in Alabama. The company claims that full-time employees in the state earn an average of $13.12 per hour. However, that figure will soon increase. Walmart workers will benefit from a broad initiative beginning in early 2016 to improve opportunities and morale, including a pay raise.

As in many other states, Walmart’s presence in Alabama is weakening slightly. The company closed nine brick-and-mortar stores in January 2016.

2. Alaska
> Largest employer:
Providence Health & Services
> Employee headcount: 4,000+

As is the case in a number of other states, the largest employer in Alaska is a medical center. Providence Health & Services employs more than 4,000 workers in the state. A spokesperson for the company noted that this number can fluctuate from year to year. The hospital system is the largest private-sector employer in Alaska, although the military also has a considerable presence in the state. While Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport was identified as the largest employer last year, it was excluded from the list this year because current data on employee count could not be verified. It also appears that the airport may have included employees working at businesses inside the airport who are not formerly employed by the airport in their count.

3. Arizona
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 33,838

Walmart is the largest private employer in Arizona. As of March 4th, nearly 33,838 people in the state worked at any one of the retail giant’s 126 locations within the state. The company says full-time employees currently earn an average of $13.20 an hour, about $5 more than the government mandated minimum wage in the state.

4. Arkansas
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 51,680

Retail giant Walmart employs more people in Arkansas — its home state — than any other business or private organization. As of March 4th, the company’s total headcount in the state was 51,680. According to the company, 77 of the 123 retail locations in the state are Supercenters.

5. California
> Largest employer:
University of California
> Employee headcount: 205,177

The University of California system, which has campuses in Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, Merced, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and San Francisco, is the largest employer in the state. The university network also includes the UCLA Health System, which consists of five medical centers, and three national laboratories.

6. Colorado
> Largest employer:
University of Colorado
> Employee headcount: 30,000

While the United States Air Force Academy, which is based in Colorado, is a major employer in the state, as is Colorado’s state government, they were excluded from the rank. Trailing the military and other state-run institutions, which were excluded from our analysis, the University of Colorado is the state’s largest employer. Systemwide, the university employs approximately 30,000 workers in Colorado.

7. Connecticut
> Largest employer:
Yale New Haven Health System
> Employee headcount: 20,396

With 20,396 total employees, Yale New Haven Health System is the largest employer in Connecticut. The hospital has approximately 1.8 million outpatient encounters — individuals who are treated but not necessarily admitted to the medical center — each year.

Last year, the largest employer was United Technologies Corp. After selling its helicopter division, Sikorsky, the aerospace company’s employee headcount dropped from around 24,500 to an estimated 16,000.

8. Delaware
> Largest employer:
Christiana Care Health System
> Employee headcount: 11,100

As is the case in a handful of other states, the largest employer in Delaware is a health care system. The Christiana Care Health System includes two hospitals with over 1,100 patient beds each.

9. Florida
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 104,228

Walmart has over 100,000 associates and over 350 brick-and-mortar locations in Florida, making it the largest employer in the third most populous state in the country. The company claims average wages of $13.51 per hour for its full-time workers, considerably more than the $8.05 government mandated minimum hourly wage.

10. Georgia
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 57,276

The largest employer in Georgia, Walmart provides jobs for some 57,276 state residents, as of March 4th. According to the company’s website, an additional 107,783 supplier jobs are supported by Walmart’s presence in the state. Of the 212 Walmart locations in Georgia, 152 are Supercenters — stores that are typically open 24 hours a day and sell groceries as well as merchandise.

11. Hawaii
> Largest employer:
University of Hawaii
> Employee headcount: 10,167

Excluding the U.S. military, which has approximately 25 locations in Hawaii — a relatively high number compared to other states that size — the university system is the largest employer in the state. The University of Hawaii, which includes campuses at Manoa, Hilo, and West Oahu; Hawaii’s six community colleges; Maui College; and the university’s administrative offices, employs more than 10,000 Hawaiians.

12. Idaho
> Largest employer:
St. Luke’s Health System
> Employee headcount: 13,557

St. Luke’s Health System is the largest employer in Idaho, providing jobs for 13,557 workers. In fiscal 2015, the hospital’s admitted 42,803 patients for treatment. Counting people who received treatment but were not admitted, St. Luke’s had 2.6 million outpatient encounters.

13. Illinois
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 51,900

Slightly less than 52,000 people work at any one of the 196 Walmart locations in Illinois. The company says full-time employees currently earn an average of $13.68 per hour. As the largest employer in state, Walmart’s presence in Illinois has broad economic implications. The retail giant boasts spending $45.1 billion with suppliers in the state in fiscal 2015.

14. Indiana
> Largest employer:
Indiana University Health
> Employee headcount: 29,395

Indiana University Health, the largest health care system in Indiana, employs 29,395 people. IU Health has an academic partnership with Indiana University, another major employer in the state. The 3,098-bed health care system employs 2,111 physicians.

15. Iowa
> Largest employer:
University of Iowa
> Employee headcount: 22,827

The University of Iowa employs thousands of people, including faculty, staff, and slightly more than 3,000 student workers. The headcount also includes workers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which employs 1,653 physicians and dentists as well as 6,969 non-physician staff members. The total headcount of 22,827 exceeds that of any other organization in the state.

16. Kansas
> Largest employer:
University of Kansas
> Employee headcount: 13,862

The University of Kansas spans five campuses and 13 schools, including the state’s only pharmacy and medicine schools. The university system employs 13,862 people. Excluding student workers, however, the headcount falls to 10,089, in line with the workforce of another major employer in the state, aviation manufacturer Spirit Aerosystems.

17. Kentucky
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 29,005

Walmart employs just over 29,000 people in Kentucky, more than any other company in the state. The company says full-time employees in the company’s 102 locations in the state currently earn an average of $14.05 an hour.

18. Louisiana
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 36,763

Employing 36,763 state residents as of early March, Walmart is the largest employer in Louisiana. In an effort to invest in larger Supercenters, the retail giant announced plans to close eight locations in the state in early 2016. As of February 2016, 88 of the 134 brick-and-mortar locations in the state were Supercenters.

19. Maine
> Largest employer:
Hannaford Supermarkets
> Employee headcount: 10,000

Hannaford Supermarkets, a grocery store chain based in the Northeast, is Maine’s largest employer with a headcount of approximately 10,000 workers, according to spokesperson Eric Blom. Hannaford is owned by the Delhaize Group, one of the largest food retailers in the world.

20. Maryland
> Largest employer:
University System of Maryland
> Employee headcount: 38,595

The first branch of the University System of Maryland was created in 1807, with the founding of the College of Medicine. Since then, the system has grown to include 11 universities and 163,454 students currently enrolled. It is the largest employer in Maryland, directly employing 38,595 workers.

21. Massachusetts
> Largest employer:
Partners Healthcare
> Employee headcount: 65,000

Member facilities of Partners Healthcare employ more people in Massachusetts than any other company or organization. The nonprofit health care system began in 1994 as a collaborative project between Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital aimed at improving patient care and medical research. Today, the organization consists of more than a dozen member hospitals and medical facilities that together employ roughly 65,000 people.

22. Michigan
> Largest employer:
University of Michigan
> Employee headcount: 45,397

According to a spokesperson from the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor based institution employs approximately 45,397 state residents. The headcount includes academic staff, executives and administrators, as well as full-time and part-time support staff. The Henry Ford Medical Center and the General Motors Technical Center are also among the state’s top employers.

23. Minnesota
> Largest employer:
Mayo Clinic
> Employee headcount: 64,033

In addition to the Mayo Clinic’s headquarters based in Rochester, the hospital network operates in 38 locations in Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic employed 64,033 state residents as of February 29, 2016, more than any other organization in the state.

24. Mississippi
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 24,741

There are 80 Walmart locations in Mississippi, of which 64 are Supercenters. The retail giant employs 24,741 people in the state, more than any other single company or organization. The company says full-time workers earn an average hourly wage of $13.86, considerably more than the $7.25 minimum hourly wage in Mississippi.

25. Missouri
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 42,312

Walmart is the largest employer in Missouri by a considerable margin. As of March 4, 42,312 state residents worked in the retailer’s 157 locations throughout the state. The company’s presence in the state may be dwindling, however, as it closed four locations in early 2016 as part of a broader effort to focus on Supercenters and e-commerce.

26. Montana
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 4,508

Compared to other states where Walmart is the largest employer, Montana has relatively few Walmart locations. Still, the 15 Walmart stores in the state employ 4,508 people as of early March, more than any other company.

27. Nebraska
> Largest employer:
University of Nebraska
> Employee headcount: 13,000

Nebraska is one of a handful of states where the largest employer is an education institution. Serving nearly 20,000 students, the University of Nebraska employs some 13,000 faculty and staff — more than any other company or organization in the state. The school claims to offer generous benefits to full-time employees, including paid sick leave and employer matched retirement plans. The university was founded in 1869, and is located in the state capital of Lincoln.

28. Nevada
> Largest employer:
MGM Grand Las Vegas
> Employee headcount: 55,000

According to a spokesperson from MGM Grand Las Vegas, the hotel chain employs approximately 55,000 workers in Nevada, making it the state’s largest employer. The hotel chain, which, based on room count, is one of the largest in the world, also owns properties in Mississippi, Michigan, Maryland, and Massachusetts, for a total headcount of 62,000 employees.

29. New Hampshire
> Largest employer:
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
> Employee headcount: 9,300

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which employs roughly 9,300 people, is the largest employer in New Hampshire by at least 4,300 workers. The hospital’s main campus is located on New Hampshire’s border with Vermont, where about one-fourth of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system’s workforce lives. The D-HH system serves 1.9 million patients throughout New England and has an estimated impact of $2.6 billion annually on the New Hampshire and Vermont state economies.

30. New Jersey
> Largest employer:
Wakefern Food Corporation
> Employee headcount: 36,000

Based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Wakefern Food Corp. employs more people in the Garden State than any other company or organization. A subsidiary of ShopRite, the company owns and operates grocery stores throughout the state as well as a handful of other nearby states. Wakefern employs 10,000 more people than the state’s second biggest employer, Rutgers University.

31. New Mexico
> Largest employer:
University of New Mexico
> Employee headcount: 24,061

The University of New Mexico employs more than 24,000 New Mexico residents. The headcount includes faculty, staff, student workers, as well as 7,686 employees at UNM Medical Group, a closely affiliated, private clinic based in Albuquerque.

32. New York
> Largest employer:
State University of New York
> Employee headcount: 89,871

The State University of New York (SUNY) is one of the largest public school systems in the country, with nearly 460,000 enrolled students. Over its 64 campuses across the state, the SUNY system also employs 89,871 faculty and staff.

33. North Carolina
> Largest employer:
University of North Carolina System
> Employee headcount: 74,079

The University of North Carolina system, which includes UNC universities and UNC hospitals, is the largest employer in North Carolina. The system employs 74,079 full- and part-time employees and spends $5.3 billion on payroll annually. Walmart, another of North Carolina’s largest employers, has over 50,000 workers in the state.

34. North Dakota
> Largest employer:
Sanford Health
> Employee headcount: 12,292

According to a spokesman, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North Dakota, employing 12,292 state residents. The company operates primarily in Bemidji, Bismarck, Fargo, and Sioux Falls. The health research and services company is also one of the largest employers in a number of other states, including South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.

35. Ohio
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 46,611

More than 46,000 people in Ohio work at Walmart as of early March, the largest employer in the state. The typical full-time worker at the retail giant in Ohio earns $13.70 per hour, according to the company. Large enough to be the biggest employer in many other states, Ohio State University is a close second, employing some 44,000 people.

36. Oklahoma
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 33,268

Employing 33,268 people as of early March, Walmart is the largest employer in Oklahoma. The company has 131 locations in the state, 79 of which are Supercenters. Minimum wage in the state is only $7.25 an hour, considerably less than the $12.92 average wage the company claims to pay full-time workers in Oklahoma.

37. Oregon
> Largest employer:
Intel
> Employee headcount: 18,600

In 2014, Intel was named “Most Admired Technology Company” by the Portland Business Journal for the ninth consecutive year. Intel began its operations in Oregon in 1974, and has since grown to be a major economic force in the region. With the company’s latest employee headcount — published last year — Intel surpassed Providence Health & Services to be the largest employer in the state.

38. Pennsylvania
> Largest employer:
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
> Employee headcount: 60,000

Education and health industries frequently dominate a state’s economy. In Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center employs 60,000 people and is the state’s largest employer. The center reported $11.1 billion in assets and $12.0 billion in operating revenue in fiscal 2015.

According to a report from the state, Walmart was the largest employer as of the second quarter of 2015. However, according to Walmart, it employs only 51,318 Pennsylvania residents, fewer than the Pittsburgh Medical Center.

39. Rhode Island
> Largest employer:
Lifespan system of hospitals
> Employee headcount: 13,710

Based in Providence, the Lifespan system of hospitals includes four major hospitals in the state. Lifespan also operates Gateway Healthcare, a health insurance network serving state residents. As a whole, the system employs more than 13,700 workers.

40. South Carolina
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 30,828

With 30,828 workers as of March, Walmart is the largest employer in South Carolina. As is the case in many parts of the country, Walmart is closing locations in the state in an effort to focus on Supercenters. Three Walmart locations in the state were shut down in early 2016, including a location in the small town of Winnsboro, which employed some 160 people. Of the 111 locations in South Carolina, 81 are Supercenters.

41. South Dakota
> Largest employer:
Avera Health
> Employee headcount: 13,000

With dozens of locations throughout South Dakota, including the highly regarded Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, Avera Health is the largest employer in the state. While Avera employs 13,000 people statewide, the health care partnership employs more people in its locations in Iowa and Minnesota.

42. Tennessee
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 40,398

With 40,398 associates as of early March, the number of Walmart employees is more than double the 19,997 headcount at Vanderbilt University, the state’s second largest employer. Beyond employing the most people, Walmart’s presence in the state is felt in other ways. According to the company’s website, Walmart spent $5 billion on suppliers in Tennessee in fiscal 2015, supporting another 39,336 jobs.

43. Texas
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 166,131

With 564 store locations and 166,131 employees as of March, Walmart is by far the largest employer in the Lonestar State. While Texas is not the most populous state, it has more Walmart locations than any other state. Walmart employs only 87,248 people in 298 stores in California, the largest state in the country by population.

44. Utah
> Largest employer:
Intermountain Healthcare
> Employee headcount: 20,000+

Like in most states, Utah’s public university system is one of the largest employers in the state, with 18,600 employees. Intermountain Healthcare, however, employs even more workers in the state at over 20,000. This headcount is about the same as Utah’s state government employment.

45. Vermont
> Largest employer:
The University of Vermont Medical Center
> Employee headcount: 7,400

The University of Vermont Medical Center, previously known as Fletcher Allen Health, is the largest employer in Vermont. While the center shares its name with UVM — also located in Burlington — it is a fully independent organization. According to a spokesperson from the hospital network, the medical center serves as a teaching hospital for UVM.

46. Virginia
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 42,915

More Virginians work at Walmart than in any other company or organization. As of March the company employed some 42,915 state residents and claims to pay full-time employees an average wage of $13.16 per hour, considerably more than the $7.25 government mandated minimum hourly wage.

47. Washington
> Largest employer:
Boeing
> Employee headcount: 77,947

Excluding Washington state government employees, aerospace manufacturer Boeing is by far the state’s largest employer. As of February 26, 2016, the company employed 77,947 state residents. The headcount also represents the majority of Boeing’s global employee count of approximately 159,000.

48. West Virginia
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 12,454

As of early March Walmart employed some 12,454 people in the state, more than any other employer, and according to the company’s website, tangentially supports another 5,657 jobs in the state through its relationships with its suppliers.

49. Wisconsin
> Largest employer:
University of Wisconsin
> Employee headcount: 40,000+

Across its 24 campuses, the University of Wisconsin system employs over 40,000 state residents, more than any other organization in the state. Aurora Health Care, another major employer in Wisconsin, claims to be the state’s largest employer. However, when accounting for employment across the entire university system, the University of Wisconsin is the largest employer in the state.

50. Wyoming
> Largest employer:
Walmart
> Employee headcount: 4,647

As is the case in many other states, Walmart is the largest employer in Wyoming. However, while some states have hundreds of Walmart locations, Wyoming has only 14. The company employs 4,647 people in the state as of March 4th, and claims to pay full-time employees an average wage of $13.56 an hour, considerably more than the state’s $7.25 minimum hourly wage.

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.

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.