September 2016

In mid-2016, WorkForce Central on behalf of the Workforce Development Council commissioned studies of the top six employment sectors within Pierce County. The studies examined workforce supply and demand through 2023 alongside targeted stakeholder feedback to build a comprehensive picture of the Pierce County workforce. Pierce County’s top six industries are:

  • Health Care
  • Construction
  • Military and Defense

The reports outline data and trends that can be used to inform decisions about programming, policy development and investment within and beyond the workforce development network.

Key Findings

Key findings revealed in the reports are as follows:

  • Pierce County has more workers than jobs, but employers aren’t enjoying the benefits of the surplus. Nearly half of its population commutes out of the county for work. Pierce County competes for qualified workers with Seattle and King County, where wages tend to be higher and “brand name” companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing attract candidates due to perceptions around prestige and opportunities for advancement.
  • Stakeholders in every sector are experiencing a deficit in soft skills among applicants. This deficit poses a major barrier to finding and retaining qualified candidates. These essential skills impact how employees interact with their workplace and include punctuality, interview and application filing skills, dress and presentation etiquette, writing skills and interpersonal communications. Employers report frustration in trying to find employees willing to work odd hours, able to pass drug tests and inclined to exert extra effort on the job.

Other Key Findings

  • Every sector is expected to experience growth through 2023, though at different rates.
  • Registered nurses pose the greatest shortage in available talent through 2023.
  • Several key occupations lack a local pipeline of talent because there are no training programs specific to the occupation located here.
  • Career mapping could be a helpful way to illustrate opportunities for jobseekers in cybersecurity,
    transportation and military contracting.

This summary outlines information from the reports specific to each of the six major industry sectors as well as to the county as a whole. Recommendations for how to improve the workforce development network are outlined on page 12. To view the reports in their entirety, visit

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