Erie Indemnity remains Erie County’s top employer as Wabtec drops to 6th

For decades, GE Transportation’s plant in Lawrence Park Township has been the undisputed best employer in Erie County.

The thing is, it wasn’t even close. At one time, up to 18,000 people worked at the factory and its offices.

It didn’t suddenly change.

As recently as 2020, the plant, now owned by Wabtec Corp., remained Erie County’s second-largest employer, according to the county’s Top 50 Employers rankings compiled by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

This list continues to evolve.

Wabtec remains Erie County’s largest manufacturing employer, but has fallen to sixth place by employee count.

And there are also new additions.

AirBorn, in Lake City, which was not on the list of top employers until recently, rose to 48th place in 2021. The company, which manufactures electronic components used by the medical, defense, industrial and space, announced a $3.7 expansion in 2019, along with plans to add 250 employees over the next three years.

Continued:AirBorn takes off

AirBorn Inc. Talent Acquisition Specialist Kyle Kleinedler, right, discusses qualifications with a candidate during a drive-thru job fair at AirBorn on Oct. 17, 2020 in Lake City.  The company, which announced an expansion in 2019, ranks as the county's 48th largest employer.

The names of Erie County’s Top 10 Employers, led by Erie Insurance, have not changed, although the order has changed slightly over the past five years.

The Top 50 rankings are a testament to Erie County’s growing economic diversity. In an area once dominated by chimneys, Erie’s top 50 includes three hospitals, four universities, an amusement park and state, federal and local governments.

The emergency entrance to Saint Vincent's Hospital is shown Sept. 22, 2020 in Erie.  The hospital system ranked as Erie County's fifth largest employer in 2021, just ahead of Wabtec Corp.

It is a diversity generally presented as a good thing by economists, a concrete example of not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Erie County remains a relative hotbed of manufacturing activity with more than 18,000 people earning their living in Erie County’s stores and factories.

But the Best Employers rankings underscore the abandonment of large-scale factories.

In the second quarter of 1986, four of Erie’s top 10 employers were manufacturers. In 2021, 35 years later, only three manufacturers – Wabtec, Plastek Industries and Lord Corp. – ranked in the top 20.

Contact Jim Martin at 814-870-1668 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.

Erie County’s Top Employers

  1. Erie Indemnity Co.
  2. UPMC Hamot
  3. state government
  4. walmart
  5. St. Vincent Hospital
  6. Wabtec Corp.
  7. Federal government
  8. Erie City School District
  9. Erie County
  10. National Barber Institute

Crawford County’s Top Employers

  1. Meadville Medical Center
  2. state government
  3. Crawford County
  4. walmart
  5. Crawford Central School District
  6. Allegheny College
  7. Acutec Precision Aerospace Inc.
  8. Channellock Inc.
  9. Wesbury United Methodist Community
  10. Penncrest School District

Source: State Department of Labor and Industry

Contact Jim Martin at 814-870-1668 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.

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