The Largest Employer in Each State

It is essential for a state’s economy to have a diverse array of companies. Still, the impact each of the companies has on a state’s economy varies considerably.

In each state, there is one company that employs the most people. As a state’s largest employer, the company may have a disproportionately large impact on its economy as well as on the surrounding region. 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. In Maine, the largest employer — Hannaford Bros. — employs only 8,000 workers. By contrast, in Texas, the largest employer — Wal-Mart — employs more than 156,000 workers.

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Wal-Mart is the only company to claim the top employer spot in more than one state. In fact, the nation’s largest retailer employed the most people in 20 states.

Educational and medical institutions also frequently top a state’s list of employers. The most common largest employer across the 50 states, after Wal-Mart, was the state’s university system. Educational services dominated statewide employment in 13 of the states. The largest employer in 11 states was health care and social assistance institutions.

The largest employer in each state also tended to serve and employ people from the surrounding region, if not across the nation. The total headcount for these large employers often far exceeded the statewide headcount.

To determine the largest employer in each state, 24/7 Wall St. looked at employment figures for nonprofits and private and publicly held companies based on company press releases, government data, business journals, and local media reports. We excluded military bases and other federal and state government employers, with the exception of state universities, which were included.

These are the largest employers in each state.

1. Alabama

Wal-Mart employed nearly 34,000 Alabama residents as of February 2015, more than any other company in the state. Of the 138 retail stores Wal-Mart operates in Alabama, 99 are supercenters. According to the company, the average wage for full-time hourly associates was $12.57 an hour.

2. Alaska

Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport is the largest employer in Alaska with more than 9,000 employees. The airport ranks second in the nation for landed weight of cargo aircraft, and is the largest and most used floatplane base globally.

3. Arizona

Excluding state and local government employment, Wal-Mart was the largest employer in Arizona with 32,373 employees as of the beginning of this year. As in most states where Wal-Mart is the top employer, there are well over 100 Wal-Mart locations throughout the state, 79 of which are supercenters. The average hourly wage of a Wal-Mart employee in the state was less than $13.00 last year.

4. Arkansas

Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, Wal-Mart is also the largest employer in the state, with 50,000 employees. Wal-Mart has about 2.2 million employees worldwide, operating nearly 11,000 stores in 27 countries. Wal-Mart’s net sales in its 2014 fiscal year were $473.1 billion.

5. California

With 10 campuses and five medical centers, the University of California System is the largest employer in California with nearly 200,000 employees. The UC System enrolled more than 238,000 students in this school year and contributes an estimated $32.8 billion to California’s gross state product.

6. Colorado

With 27,500 employees, University of Colorado is the largest employer in Colorado. The school has campuses in Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver and a medical campus in Anschutz. Nearly 32,000 students were enrolled at the university as of 2013.

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7. Connecticut

United Technologies is the largest employer in Connecticut with 22,000 employees. The company’s Pratt & Whitney subsidiary, which recently announced it would expand its Middletown Connecticut production facility, produces and sells large commercial aircraft engines.

8. Delaware

Located in Newark, Christiana Care Health System, in the ambulatory health care services sector, is the largest employer in Delaware with more than 10,500 employees. The nonprofit hospital network also serves states in the surrounding region, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.

9. Florida

There were nearly 95,000 Wal-Mart employees at 343 retail locations in Florida as of February, by far the highest headcount of any company in the state. Full-time Wal-Mart employees were paid an average hourly wage of just over $13.00 at the end of last year. Florida’s minimum wage is $8.05 an hour. While Wal-Mart wages tend to be quite low, the company recently announced it would invest $1 billion this year to raise wages.

10. Georgia

With nearly 51,000 employees, Wal-Mart is the largest employer in Georgia. The company operated more than 200 stores in the state, 150 of which are supercenters.

11. Hawaii

The University of Hawaii employs approximately 28,500 workers, making it the state’s largest employer. The university spans 10 campuses and enrolls more than 60,000 students.

12. Idaho

St. Luke’s Health System is the largest employer in Idaho with 12,761 employees across 12 major facilities. St. Luke’s is the only nonprofit health system based in Idaho, and it cares for more than 163,000 patients each year.

13. Illinois

Wal-Mart employed 51,137 people in Illinois in 197 locations as of the end of last year, a higher headcount than any other employer in the state. The minimum hourly wage for roughly 500,000 Wal-Mart workers nationwide will increase to $9 beginning in April. The increase will likely raise the average hourly wage of $13.08 at the end of 2014 for Illinois Wal-Mart associates.

14. Indiana

With more than 60,000 employees, Indiana University and its associated medical center is the largest employer in the state. The university has eight campuses throughout Indiana. The 3,098-bed medical center had 2,111 physicians as part of its employee count.

15. Iowa

WIth approximately 22,500 employees at its campuses, hospitals, and clinics, the University of Iowa is the largest employer in the state. In January, the AIB College of Business announced it would become the University’s new Des Moines campus.

16. Kansas

The University of Kansas employs roughly 13,500 people and is the largest employer in the state. At the end of February, KU’s men’s basketball team won its 11th straight Big 12 conference title.

17. Kentucky

Wal-Mart employed nearly 28,000 Kentucky residents, more than any other employer in the state. The retailer had more than 100 locations across Kentucky as of February.

18. Louisiana

The largest employer in Louisiana is Wal-Mart, which employed 34,633 people at 127 locations across Louisiana as of the end of last year. The nation’s largest retailer announced earlier this year it would invest $1 billion to raise wages for its associates. The investment will likely help raise the current average wage of $12.73 an hour of Louisiana Wal-Mart workers. While the economic effects of the wage increase remain to be seen, Louisiana lawmakers have argued that increasing the minimum wage would have a detrimental impact on business.

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19. Maine

Hannaford Bros., a supermarket chain based in the Northeast, is Maine’s largest employer with more than 8,000 workers. Hannaford is owned by the Delhaize Group, one of the largest food retailers in the world.

20. Maryland

The University System of Maryland is the largest employer in Maryland with 38,640 employees spread over 11 schools and one research institution. USM is the 12th largest university system in the country. More than 152,000 students were enrolled as of the fall semester.

21. Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts, with more than 28,000 employees, is the largest employer in the Bay State. UMass has campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell and a medical school in Worcester. It has more than 54,000 undergraduate and 17,000 graduate students.

22. Michigan

The University of Michigan System, including its three campuses and health system, is the largest employer in Michigan with 45,397 employees. Ann Arbor — the university’s main campus — enrolls nearly 30,000 undergraduates and is one of the country’s top 30 universities, according to U.S. News and World Report.

23. Minnesota

With more than 33,000 employees, the Mayo Clinic is the largest employer in Minnesota. In addition to three campuses in Minnesota, it also operates clinics and hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Georgia.

24. Mississippi

Wal-Mart employed 23,430 people in Mississippi, more than any other company in the state. As the largest employer in the state, the company’s recently announced wage increase may have a substantial impact on Mississippi’s economy. In its coverage of the announcement, Mississippi Public Broadcasting claimed the increase would improve personal incomes for thousands of state residents.

25. Missouri

With more than 40,000 employees in Missouri, Wal-Mart is the state’s largest employer by a large margin. The company had 154 locations across the state, 109 of which were supercenters.

26. Montana

Wal-Mart employed 4,533 people in Montana at the end of last year, a relatively low headcount compared to other states — especially in states where Wal-Mart was the top employer. Yet, the retailer employed more state residents than any other company.

27. Nebraska

The University of Nebraska is the largest employer in Nebraska with more than 13,000 employees. The university is the state’s only public university.

28. Nevada

MGM Grand Las Vegas is the largest employer in Nevada with more than 50,000 employees. The hotel and casino is one of 24 global destinations operated by MGM Resorts International.

29. New Hampshire

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is the largest employer in New Hampshire with 9,300 employees. The hospital claims to support a total of 18,000 jobs throughout the region. Dartmouth-Hitchcock is also a major research institution. It received $140 million in funding in 2013.

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30. New Jersey

Wakefern Food Corporation, a subsidiary of ShopRite is the largest employer in New Jersey with more than 35,000 employees. According to its website, Wakefern is the country’s largest retailers’ cooperative.

31. New Mexico

The University of New Mexico is the largest employer in New Mexico with more than 15,000 employees. Founded in 1889, the University of New Mexico is located in Albuquerque. Rio Rancho, located closeby, is home to an Intel research facility, another large economic driver and employer in the state.

32. New York

The State University of New York, spread over 64 campuses, employs 89,871 residents and is New York’s largest employer. SUNY has 459,550 students, including 418,917 undergraduates and 40,633 graduate students. Among the undergraduates are 239,791 students enrolled at community colleges, also part of the SUNY system.

33. North Carolina

Wal-Mart’s 210 locations across North Carolina employed more than 49,000 people at the end of 2014, more than any other company in the state. Full-time associates had an average hourly wage of $12.87. The University of North Carolina System was also a large employer in the state.

34. North Dakota

Sanford Health is the largest employer in North Dakota. Sanford operates 43 hospitals and 225 clinics. Among its 11,964 employees, it employs 1,360 physicians who have 81 specialty areas in medicine. It serves patients in both Dakotas and seven other states.

35. Ohio

Nearly 47,000 Ohio residents were employed at Wal-Mart’s 175 locations across the state, a higher headcount than any other employer in Ohio. With such a large presence in the state, Wal-Mart’s recently announced wage increase will likely have among the largest economic impacts in Ohio.

36. Oklahoma

Wal-Mart employed 31,096 people in Oklahoma at the end of last year, more than any other employer in the state. The company purchases millions of dollars worth of supplies throughout the region. The company claims to have helped generate an additional 18,438 jobs in the region, as a result.

37. Oregon

With more than 18,000 employees, Providence Health & Services is Oregon’s largest employer. The nonprofit health system operates in four additional states, employing a total of more than 71,000 workers. Across all locations, the system provides services to roughly 20,000 people daily.

38. Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a vertically integrated health care provider, is the largest employer in Pennsylvania with 60,000 employees. UPMC provides health insurance in addition to medical care. In its 2014 fiscal year, UPMC admitted more than 287,000 patients.

39. Rhode Island

The Lifespan system of hospitals is one of three health systems in Rhode Island. An estimated 13,635 state residents were employed throughout the system’s four hospitals, more than at any other company in Rhode Island. According to the company’s most recent annual report, Lifespan is the largest and its hospitals are among the most visited in Rhode Island.

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40. South Carolina

South Carolina’s 104 Wal-Mart locations had a total of 26,829 employees at the end of last year. No other company in the state employed more residents. To supply its stores in the state, Wal-Mart spent $1.1 billion in its most recent fiscal year, which the retailer claimed helped support an additional 20,488 jobs in the area. The average wage of a Wal-Mart worker in South Carolina was $12.76 an hour in November 2014.

41. South Dakota

Avera Health employs more than 13,000 people at its more than 300 locations across South Dakota, a larger headcount than any other employer in the state. As South Dakota is a relatively small state, the company’s workforce makes up nearly 3% of employees statewide, one of the largest proportions employed by one company compared to other states.

42. Tennessee

Wal-Mart employs more people in Tennessee than any other company in the state, with a statewide workforce of 38,569 at the end of last year. The vast majority of the state’s 141 locations are supercenters. The average wage for Wal-Mart workers in the state was $12.71 an hour.

43. Texas

The nation’s largest employer — Wal-Mart — is also the largest employer in Texas, with a headcount of 156,195 across its 563 Texas locations. The company’s Texas workforce accounted for 12% of its national headcount, and no state had more Wal-Mart employees than Texas. As a result, the recently announced wage hike for Wal-Mart associates will have a disproportionately large impact on the state’s workforce.

44. Utah

Intermountain Healthcare is Utah’s largest employer with approximately 33,000 employees. The nonprofit health system operates 22 hospitals.

45. Vermont

As in many other states, the largest employer in Vermont is a large university. Together with its affiliated medical center, previously known as Fletcher Allen Health Care, the University of Vermont employed roughly 11,800 people, more than any other employer in the state. The institution is located in Burlington, the state’s largest city.

46. Virginia

Nearly 40,000 Virginia residents were employed by Wal-Mart at the end of last year, more than any other company in the state. State lawmakers turned down six proposals to raise Virginia’s minimum wage in the most recent legislative session. Wal-Mart, however, announced it would raise wages for 500,000 of its workers, a move that will likely impact a number of employees in Virginia.

47. Washington

Aeronautics defense company Boeing is Washington’s top employer with 80,241 employees in the state. Boeing has become known primarily for its commercial jets, but it is also one of the world’s largest arms producers. Microsoft, the state’s next largest employer, had a total statewide headcount of roughly half that of Boeing’s.

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48. West Virginia

West Virginia’s 44 Wal-Mart locations employed 10,855 state residents at the end of 2014, more than any other employer in the state. According to West Virginia’s MetroNews, Wal-Mart has been the state’s largest private employer since 1998.

49. Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin System is the largest employer in Wisconsin with more than 39,000 employees. Across all of its schools, the system serves roughly 180,000 students each year.

50. Wyoming

More than 4,000 Wyoming residents worked at a Wal-Mart at the end of last year. While this was a relatively low headcount compared to other states, no other company employed more people in the nation’s least populous state. The average wage of Wyoming Wal-Mart workers was $13.36 an hour as of November 2014.

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