BOStoday City Guide Work Banner

The top industries and employers in the Boston area

Learn about the biggest industries and employers in the Boston metro area with this guide to local business.

Boston skyline with sun rising

These are just some of the businesses that keep Boston thriving.

Table of Contents

Hundreds of thousands of people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Greater Boston area’s $531 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the city’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Boston Business 101 — your guide to our region’s key industries and major employers.

The key industries

There are five key industries that represent ~60% of Boston’s economy, based on the most recent 2020 data from the City of Boston. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Healthcare and Social Assistance | 147,471 employees
This one comes as no surprise, considering that Boston is home to top research and teaching hospitals — we’re looking at you Boston Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. There are also plenty of community-based centers keeping Bostonians healthy.

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services | 114,178 employees
Since this sector requires a high degree of expertise, this is where many graduates from Boston’s higher education institutes wind up working. Think: Cambridge’s strong biotech scene or the many tech startups around Boston.

Finance and Insurance | 94,205 employees
This industry saw significant job growth prior to the pandemic, as its companies tend to require commercial office space. Still, the finance and insurance space employs lots of Bostonians across companies like Fidelity Investments and State Street.

Government | 75,051 employees
That’s a whole lot of folks working for our local government. These jobs range from Boston’s City Council members and public health staff to archaeologists and school traffic crossing guards.

Educational Services | 65,355 employees
Considered an area of specialization for Boston, our city has an employment share three times the national average for education services. Area colleges include Boston University, Northeastern University, Boston College, and Tufts University (just to name a few).

The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious for specific names. Whether you’re job hunting (or just “casually prospecting”), here are five major local employers all that employ more than 12,000 Massachusetts workers on average.

Mass General Brigham
79,430 local employees | Health care | Search jobs
Headquartered on Revolution Drive in Somerville, this health care system was founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (two of the leading academic medical centers in the country). It’s by far the largest employer in the state, with an integrated system of academic medical centers, specialty hospitals, and home care services.

University of Massachusetts
24,048 local employees | Education | Search jobs
From UMass Boston in Dorchester to the university’s Amherst, Lowell, and Dartmouth campuses, UMass has been rated the top public university in New England.

20,000 local employees | Retail/Technology | Search jobs
Though the tech giant’s main headquarters are in Seattle (hey, SEAtoday), there’s a local office at Harbor Way in the Seaport. Massachusetts makes up a small percentage of its ~1.5 million total employees.

Stop & Shop
18,147 local employees | Retail | Search jobs
The supermarket company is based in Quincy and operates more than 400 stores in the northeast. Roughly one-third of the company’s overall employees are based in the Bay State.

Raytheon Technologies
12,000 local employees | Technology | Search jobs
The aerospace and defense company moved its headquarters to Arlington, VA this past June. The local Waltham office previously served as the company headquarters for 100 years.

This information is derived from the most recent statewide data published by the Boston Business Journal and does not include government workers.

BOStoday phone
Good news for Boston.
Get the best local news & events sent to your inbox each morning, for free.