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What Is The Main Industry in Tacoma, WA?


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The single most important industry in Tacoma, WA, is the military and defense sector, anchored by Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This base is the largest employer in the area, providing 54,000 jobs and supporting a wide range of local businesses and economic activities. This central military installation significantly impacts the region's financial stability and growth.

Tacoma, Washington, boasts a robust and diverse economy driven by a mix of crucial industries. Located in Pierce County, Tacoma benefits from its strategic position and an array of major employers that span several sectors, providing stability and growth opportunities for residents and businesses alike.

Major Employers

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, MultiCare Health System, and the Tacoma Public School District are the largest employers in Tacoma. These organizations are crucial to the local economy, offering thousands of jobs and supporting various community services.

Key Industries

Military and Defense

The military is a significant part of Tacoma's economy. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the largest employer, with 54,000 personnel. The base's operations support many local businesses and contribute significantly to the region's economic stability.



Healthcare is another vital industry in Tacoma. Primary healthcare providers such as MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health employ thousands of people. The presence of these healthcare giants ensures that residents have access to quality medical care and that the local economy benefits from a steady stream of healthcare-related jobs.


Education is a cornerstone of Tacoma's economy. The Tacoma Public School District, several other school districts, and higher education institutions like the University of Washington Tacoma provide numerous jobs and educational opportunities. These institutions help foster a well-educated workforce essential for the city's continued growth.

What is the main industry in Tacoma, WA?

Technology and Startups

The tech industry is rapidly growing in Tacoma. The city's affordable office space, top talent pool, and proximity to Seattle make it an attractive location for tech companies and startups. The University of Washington Tacoma’s School of Engineering & Technology is key in training skilled professionals who drive this sector forward.

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Maritime and Trade

The Port of Tacoma is one of the largest container ports in the United States, covering over 2,500 acres. It supports more than 42,000 jobs and generates $3 billion in labor income. The port is a crucial hub for international trade, handling many imports and exports that fuel the local and regional economy.


Tacoma's aerospace sector is robust, with Boeing and other aerospace firms operating in the region. This industry benefits from Washington's status as the top state for aerospace production, providing numerous high-paying jobs and supporting a vast supply chain network.


Construction is booming in Tacoma, with both residential and commercial projects on the rise. The city is experiencing rapid growth, with new developments and infrastructure projects underway, including constructing new multifamily units and commercial spaces.

Finance and Insurance

Tacoma is home to several major financial institutions, including KeyBank, JP Morgan Chase, and Umpqua Bank. The finance and insurance sector provides essential services to residents and businesses, supporting economic growth through loans, investment, and risk management services.

Tacoma's economy is anchored by diverse industries such as military and defense, healthcare, education, technology, maritime trade, aerospace, construction, and finance.

This economic diversity ensures that Tacoma remains a resilient and thriving city, capable of weathering economic shifts and continuing to grow. With a strong foundation in these key sectors, Tacoma is well-positioned for a prosperous future.

Employer Number of Employees Percentage of Total
Joint Base Lewis-McChord 54,000 44.20%
MultiCare Health System 8,264 6.76%
State of Washington 7,859 6.43%
CHI Franciscan Health 5,682 4.65%
Tacoma Public Schools 3,649 2.99%
City of Tacoma & Tacoma Public Utilities 3,623 2.97%
Pierce County Government 3,304 2.70%
Puyallup School District 2,711 2.22%
Bethel School District 2,689 2.20%
Safeway & Albertsons 2,153 1.76%
Emerald Queen Casino 2,146 1.76%
Fred Meyer Retail & Distribution Center 1,802 1.47%
Amazon Distribution Center 1,800 1.47%
Clover Park School District 1,782 1.46%
Boeing 1,550 1.27%
U.S. Postal Service 1,336 1.09%
Costco 1,318 1.08%
Peninsula School District 1,284 1.05%
Puyallup Tribe 1,274 1.04%
Sumner School District 1,270 1.04%
State Farm Insurance Companies 1,219 1.00%
Franklin Pierce School District 1,161 0.95%
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 1,028 0.84%
Camp Murray 940 0.77%
Walmart 861 0.70%
Pierce Transit 858 0.70%
Pierce College 822 0.67%
Milgard Manufacturing 818 0.67%
Home Depot 786 0.64%
Kaiser Permanente 755 0.62%
Target 709 0.58%
University of Washington Tacoma 703 0.58%
University Place School District 680 0.56%
Columbia Bank 673 0.55%
University of Puget Sound 667 0.55%
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This table approximates the percentage of total employment contributed by each major employer in Tacoma, WA.

Tech Startups in Tacoma

Growing Tech Ecosystem

Tacoma is emerging as a significant hub for tech startups, attracting both new and established companies. Forbes has recognized the Seattle-Tacoma region as the best area in the country for tech jobs, which has spurred massive growth in tech and cybersecurity positions over recent years.

Key Drivers of Growth

Several factors contribute to Tacoma's burgeoning tech scene:

  • University of Washington Tacoma's School of Engineering & Technology: This institution trains top tech and computer science experts, hosting key networking events for large and small tech companies. The university is crucial in supplying the region with highly skilled professionals.
  • Affordable Office Space: Compared to Seattle, Tacoma offers more affordable office space, making it an attractive location for tech startups looking to reduce overhead costs while still being part of a vibrant tech community.
  • Top Talent and High Retention Rates: Tacoma boasts a high retention rate for programmers and tech workers, which helps companies reduce employment costs and build cohesive, long-term teams.
  • Supportive Community: A lively downtown and a supportive business community create a conducive environment for startups to thrive.

Notable Tech Companies and Initiatives

  • Infoblox: A leader in cybersecurity, Infoblox employs 225 people in Tacoma and contributes significantly to the local tech landscape.
  • NewCold: An international cold storage company, NewCold operates its largest U.S. automated warehouse in Tacoma, showcasing the city's capacity for high-tech industrial operations.
  • Tacoma Blue Edge Network: This initiative serves businesses in the Tacoma Tideflats, enhancing connectivity and providing a living lab for entrepreneurs to explore and develop solutions to industry challenges.
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Tacoma's tech ecosystem is further bolstered by a supportive state government that offers incentives and technical assistance to tech companies, fostering an environment of innovation and growth. As a result, Tacoma continues to attract and retain tech talent, positioning itself as a key player in the tech industry.

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