Monday, October 19, 2009

The top 25 employers in Whatcom County....

11/27/2017. This is a third update to the original 2009 post which continues to get substantial traffic.

I have updated the links below. I found an excellent paper on Bellingham's economic make up at WWU's College of Business and Economics Center for Research:
If you are young and high tech, you should probably move to Seattle or San Francisco despite the high rents and frenzied job markets. There is high tech work here, but the market is much smaller, less dependable, etc. Bellingham is still primarily a college town with some ex-urban infill. Whatcom County is industrial and agricultural.  We have managed to retain the edge of the frontier feel. We are still the small town that feels like its downtown could collapse into a "heroin lousy" pit of economic depression and homelessness at any year. Visit in January before you decide to make your move here. The great downtown build out has never really happened, but if you think that might be what you are looking for, you should probably check out the Barkley Neighborhood.

12/28/2014. This is a second update to the original 10/2009 post which continues to get substantial traffic. Here are updated list locations of the Top Employers in Whatcom County:
Since the original post, economic conditions have generally improved in Whatcom County, especially for retail and hotel. While Bellingham is not exactly the booming frontier, no place really is in America outside of the Beltway.  Our proximity to British Columbia has meant huge windfalls for Whatcom retail industry. See some presentations here. Shale Oil is being refined here in the Pacific Northwest, city and county budgets have recovered as best as can be expected and as far as I can tell, homes (with some exceptions) are selling again. Reputedly, we currently have more legal weed stores in Bellingham than any other WA city.

But what you who came to this site for and want to know is:
  • Can I find work?
  • Are there business opportunities?
  • Can I find my dream home and still fnd a job?
  • Is Bellingham the answer to all my hipster, best place to fund a startup, retirement, nature loving dreams?
It just might be. Whatever problems we have pale in comparison to the stories I've heard  about the rest of the country.Here are some random thoughts:

(1) Don't come here if you don't like rain or short winter days. 
(2) WA is a self-serve state and Whatcom County only has 215K folks, but we play out much bigger than that because of tourism and British Columbia.
(3) It's not Carmel and that's probably a good thing....
(4) There are lots of well-educated, under employed students and professionals here.

Please visit.

10/1/2010.  This is an update to the original post which continues to get substantial traffic.  The most updated list of employers in Whatcom County can no be found here.  However, many reductions for government and university are in the works. -Thanks -RMF

Below is the list of the 25 top employers in Whatcom County as provided in the COB 2009 Adopted Budget.  What do we notice about this list?  7 out of the top 10 employers in Whatcom County are either non-profits or local/state government.  This means that in coming years, most of the top employers in Bellingham and Whatcom county will issue job layoff notices and department cut-backs as government funds in an era of economic scarcity continue to dry up. Furthermore, in this list only 882 employees come from Telecommunications and Engineering, the great job and wealth drivers of the past 15 years of American history.  None of these employers are specifically from the worlds of finance, hardware engineering, software-engineering, or internet development. 

In stark contrast to the high education levels of our populace, we are not providing enough high-tech, clean, well-paid professional salaries. The wealth of our economy is nearly inflexible: the maintenance of the economy is supported by continuing immigration of wealth to Bellingham. When was the last time you heard representatives of the building industry stand before your councils and say, "If you can just provide enough jobs/wages that will provide for $2500/month mortgage payments, I can build more houses here in Bellingham?" Instead, the requests from most developers seems to sound more like, "If you just clear these damn environmentalists and the GMA out of my way, I can build for retired Californians until all those fat, well-fed cows (with lots of deposits in their bank accounts to bring to Whatcom County) come home."

What if those cows stop coming home?  For how long would will the foreclosure rate continue to increase?  What would such a failure mean to the employers on this list?

Largest Employers in Whatcom County - 2008 / 2009 Survey
Rank Name Employees Type
1 PEACE HEALTH (St. Joseph Hospital / Madrona) 2,706 Health Care
4 HAGGEN INC 933 Retail
5 WHATCOM COUNTY 920 Government
6 CITY OF BELLINGHAM 852 Government
7 BP CHERRY POINT REFINERY * 725 Manufacturing
9 LUMMI TRIBAL OFFICE 700 Tribes - Admin
10 STERLING HEALTH 700 Health Insurance
11 SODEXHO SERVICES * 671 Food Service
12 SILVER REEF CASINO 560 Tribes - Gaming
13 FRED MEYERS 552 Retail
15 ALCOA INTALCO * 544 Manufacturing
16 THE MARKETS LLC (Formerly Brown & Cole) 485 Retail
18 HEATH TECNA INC 442 Manufacturing
19 T-MOBILE (not verified by T-Mobile) 440 Telecommunications
20 ANVIL CORP 431 Engineering
22 WAL-MART 380 Retail
24 COSTCO 330 Wholesale
Source: Western Washintgon University College of Business and Economics, Economics and Business Research.
* = Waiting for response. Employment numbers used were taken from the 2007 survey.
Note: Estimates of employed workers may vary depending on the method of calculation. Most companies report only the number of full and part-time employees. However, some companies include seasonal workers. The number of workers in any given company may also vary depending on the time of year. As such, these numbers should be used as general reference
figures - not exact employee counts.

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