The top industries and employers in Columbus, Ohio

Learn more about the biggest industries and employers in Columbus with this guide to local businesses.

nationwide

Nationwide is one of the largest employers in Columbus. | Photo via Nationwide

Table of Contents

More than a 2.1 million people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Columbus metro area’s $137+ billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the Capital City’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Columbus Business 101 — your guide to five of our region’s 11 key industries and seven major employers.

Note: The Columbus metro area is defined as Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Pickaway, and Union counties, according to local data.

CBUStoday Hilton Downtown Columbus

This Hilton hotel is now open downtown. | Rendering via Meyers + Associates

The key industries

There are 11 key industries that represent Columbus + no industry holds more than an 18% share of the market, based on data from the City of Columbus Economic Development Division. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Professional and Business Services | 18% or 376,000 employees
Of the 11 Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in the Columbus Region, five are also Fortune 500 companies. These businesses include Nationwide Insurance, AEP, and Hexion Inc.

Government | 16% or 336,000 employees
Since Columbus is the capital of Ohio, that means large government agencies, such as the State of Ohio, are headquartered here. The State of Ohio employs 21,000+ people and adding to that are other agencies like the Supreme Court of Ohio or the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Education and Health | 15% or 315,000 employees
While healthcare providers such as OhioHealth, Nationwide Children’s Hospital + Cardinal Health are major employers in this category, The Ohio State University leads the way for education with 47,000+ employees. Other community colleges and local schools, like Columbus State Community College and Columbus City Schools, add to these totals.

Retail and Trade | 11% or 231,000 employees
As one of the top retail cities in the country, Columbus is home to major brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Express, and Big Lots. Thanks to Columbus’ central location in the U.S., some of these retailers, such as Bath and Body Works Inc., are also some of the largest logistics companies in the city.

Leisure and Hospitality | 10% or 210,000 employees
While national brands like Hilton have grown in size thanks to recent developments, fast food chains like Wendy’s + White Castle started in Columbus and add to this sizable number. And Columbus Hospitality Management oversees multiple hotels in the city, including the Courtyard Marriott OSU and the Hyatt Place Columbus/Worthington.

Manufacturing | 8% or 168,000 employees
Manufacturing in Columbus comes in many different forms, but at the top of the list are Safelite, Whirlpool Corp., and DHL. Most recently, Intel announced it will build a $20 billion semiconductor factory bringing 10,000 jobs to central Ohio. Local players such as Worthington Industries continue to grow + other international brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev also carry a large employment presence.

Financial Activities | 7% or 147,000 employees
JPMorgan Chase & Co. makes up a large chunk of this category as it employs 20,000+ people. And if you know someone with a Huntington or Fifth Third bank account, that’s because these two financial agencies are both headquartered in Columbus.

Transportation and Utilities | 6% or 126,000 employees
The John Glenn International Airport + the Rickenbacker International Airport provide international and national transport for both people and cargo. Since 2018, CMH has flown 8.1+ million passengers while Rickenbacker has transported 300+ million pounds of cargo.

Wholesale Trade | 4% or 84,000 employees
The Columbus region offers easy access to major national and global markets leading to logistics companies like XPO Logistics, UPS, and DHL having high employee counts. According to logistics data, Columbus is within a 10-hour drive of 46% of the U.S. population.

Construction and Mining | 3% or 63,000 employees
Steward Construction Services LLC + Compton Construction LLC, based in Columbus, were two construction businesses cited for their fast growth in recent years.

Other Services | 3% or 63,000 employees
This encompasses all other businesses that don’t fit in the aforementioned categories, but combine to create a large employment base.

Bath and Body Works at Easton Town Center | Photo via Bath and Body Works

Bath and Body Works at Easton Town Center. | Photo via Bath and Body Works

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 seven major employersall that employ more than 2,000 workers on average.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. | Financial Activities | Search jobs
As one of the oldest financial institutes in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase ranks in the top five on Fortune’s most attractive employer by business students. The firm also scored a 100 on the Disability Equality Index.

Nationwide | Business Services | Search jobs
Nationwide is one of the top local Fortune 1000 employers in the city as it can offer jobs through its insurance agency. This brand also has a wide reach throughout the city as it’s the namesake of the Columbus Blue Jacket’s home ice — Nationwide Arena.

Bath and Body Works | Retail Services | Search jobs
Formerly known as L Brands, this Columbus-based retailer boasts numerous storefronts, distribution centers, and a headquarters in Reynoldsburg.

Cardinal Health | Health Services | Search jobs
Headquartered in Dublin, this medical supply company is one of the biggest in its field in Ohio with 48,000 total employees. Fortune ranked it as its No. 15 business in 2022.

Huntington Bank | Financial Activities | Search jobs
Huntington offers jobs at both its various banks as well as its headquarters right here in the city. The bank was founded in 1866 and has 1,000 branches in 11 states.

American Electric Power (AEP) | Utilities | Search jobs
AEP provides electricity to hundreds of thousands of Columbistes every day, adding to its total of 5.5 million people served across 11 states. The company offers positions at its headquarters at 1 Riverside Plaza, or as electricians and technicians.

Abercrombie & Fitch | Retail | Search jobs
This retailer features storefronts around Columbus + a massive campus in New Albany where its home office is located. Find jobs working the floor at stores or helping coordinate next season’s hottest trends.

This information is derived from data published by the City of Columbus, One Columbus, and Fortune.

More from CBUStoday