The 5 Largest Employers in Orange County, CA

A man with a suitcase walking, symbolic of the jobs created by Orange County's largest employers.

Our List of Orange County’s 5 Largest Employers

If you Google “Orange County”, the first results will probably describe the region’s list of attractions and outdoor activities. All this is true. However, it only paints half the picture. Today, Orange County has a thriving business environment with a lot to offer. Here, you will find some of the world’s largest companies. They come to Orange County to enjoy the thriving business environment and work with a pool of talent that helps them grow further.

We love OC businesses and therefore took it upon ourselves to create a list of the 5 largest employers in Orange County. So read on for the official My OC Bookkeeper list of the OC’s largest job creators.

The Walt Disney Company

Topping Orange County’s largest employers list, The Walt Disney Company with about 30,000 employees countywide. That is why, it plays a vital role in the Orange County economy. The Walt Disney Company operates in four business segments: Media Networks, Parks, Experiences and Products, Studio Entertainment, and Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) and International. That is why, it always offers a steady stream of diversified job opportunities.

At The Walt Disney Company, they understand how each member of their staff will have an impact on people’s lives worldwide. That is why, they don’t hire just anybody. (Interesting fact: they may have hired the mother of one of our staff members.) They also ensure that their staff comes from unusually diverse demographic backgrounds – the company is 52% female and 43% minorities.

From the start, The Walt Disney Company has branded itself as the place of making dreams come true. That is not just their mission with their customers. The Walt Disney Company also tries to help its employees reach their dreams. That is why, they invest in their employees’ education through their Disney Aspire program. For all these reasons and more, The Walt Disney Company is not just the largest employer in Orange County – it also has a great employee retention rate, with staff members usually staying with the company for 3.7 years.

(Sidebar, do yourself a favor and watch the video below. It’s about Disney’s longest standing employee who worked there for 65 years! We’re not sure what his thoughts on the 5 largest employers in Orange County are, but we suspect he likes at least one of the companies on our list.)

University of California

The second largest employers in Orange County are not from the private sector. With 23,884 employers, UCI tops the list as the largest public sector employers in Orange County. They are also contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide.

Over the past few years, UCI has been growing rapidly in many areas. That is why, its size of employees has also increased drastically. Founded in 1965, UCI is considered the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It also ranks among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News and World Report. With three Nobel laureates, UCI is known for its academic achievement, cutting edge research, innovation and its infamous anteater mascot. That is why, Forbes has named it one of the best employers in the USA.

County of Orange

Offering about 17,271 jobs, the County of Orange lands in the third place of our list of largest employers in Orange County. The County of Orange is a local governmental agency responsible for developing, managing and providing a wide range of public services. Their scope of services includes public safety, public health, environmental protection, regional planning, and social services. To deliver all these services in a responsive and timely manner, the County of Orange partners with regional businesses and other governmental entities.

At the County of Orange, the staff comes from unusually diverse demographic backgrounds. The organization is 53.5% female and 54.4% ethnic minorities. This diversification is also extended to the political orientation of the employees, with 49.7% Democrats and 46.6% Republicans. The County of Orange also offers good working conditions, health, dental, medical insurances, paid time off, 401k plan, etc. That is why, their employee retention rate is high with staff members usually staying for 6.6 years within the company. No wonder the County of Orange has ranked number 4 on the Best Government Companies to Work for in Santa Ana, CA list.

A sign with the words "for hire", symbolic of Orange County's largest employers.

St. Joseph Health

When you think about the largest employers in Orange County, usually big names, such as Disney or Boeing, come to mind. That is why, many people get surprised when they see St. Joseph Health in the list. With a workforce of 14,000 employees, St. Joseph Health lands on the well-deserved fourth place in our list.

This Catholic not-for-profit, health care system has long and storied roots in Orange County. Its first hospital in Orange County, St. Joseph in Orange, was founded in 1929. Today, St. Joseph Health includes 16 hospitals, physician organizations, home health agencies, hospice care, outpatient services and community outreach services. They cover California, Texas and New Mexico. In 2016 and 2017, St. Joseph Health was awarded Top Workplaces Regional Awards by the Orange County register.

Kaiser Permanente

As one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, it is no surprise that Kaiser Permanente lands in our largest Orange County employers’ list. With a workforce of 8,178 jobs, Kaiser Permanente serves 12.5 million members.

For over 76 years, Kaiser Permanente has been leading the way with innovative approaches to health care. Their goal has always been to deliver high-quality and affordable health care services. Kaiser Permanente Orange County hospitals are among the best in the nation for delivering high-quality care, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s 2021-2022 “Best Hospitals” rankings. They have also been recognized on Glassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work list.

This concludes our list of the 5 largest employers in Orange County. Let us know your opinion and how you see each of these companies. We would love to have a good discussion about that. You can also check our list of The 5 Best Businesses in Irvine. Or, if you’re looking for a great place to live in this lovely county, check out our post on the best places to live in the OC.

Do you want to grow your business and maybe one day land on the list of top five employers in Orange County? At My OC Bookkeeper, we can help you achieve that and much more. We understand all the challenges that come along with the huge business opportunities in Orange County. That is why, we provide the best bookkeeping and business advisory services available in Southern California. With us, you can rest assured you will get the business partner you need to make your business thrive. To learn more about our services and how we can help, reach out to us. Let’s chat and see how we can do great things together.

Setting Up a Business in Orange County, CA

Opening a Business in California

The My OC Bookkeeper Guide to Setting Up a Business in Orange County, CA

Ready to start a business in Orange County, CA? There are a lot of things to think about, but don’t worry we are here to help. My OC Bookkeeper (Orange County’s best bookkeeping and accounting firm) has put together this guide to help you on your way. In addition to some great info, we’ve included links to websites that will be valuable throughout the process. So, without further ado, My OC Bookkeeper’s guide to setting up a business in Orange County, CA. (By the way, if you aren’t located in Orange County don’t worry, these tips will be helpful wherever you are.)

Step 1: What Kind of Business Should I Set Up?

There are seven basic types of businesses you can set up. The types are: sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company (LLC), limited partnership (LP), general partnership (GP), and limited liability partnership (LLP). We will describe each one in turn.

Sole Proprietorship – a sole proprietorship, or sole prop, is generally considered the easiest and cheapest form of business to form. It enables an individual (rather than an ownership group) to setup and own a business. Importantly, with a sole prop the owner and the business are considered a single entity, so the owner is responsible for all of the obligations and liabilities of the business. They have complete control, and individually take the profits and pay the taxes. If the business is to have a name different than their own, i.e. Steve Baker, then a fictitious business name, or dba, must be filed with the county where the business operates. There are no specific documents that must be filled with the CA Secretary of State, although depending on the type of business there may be paperwork and registrations required.

Corporation – a corporation is a usually a legal entity that is entirely distinct from its ownership. The structure prevents liability from passing from the business to the owners; however taxes are paid by both the company itself and the shareholders. Unlike most business entities, corporations can sell stocks and bonds to raise capital, and the company can survive long after the initial owners have passed away.

To set one up you will need to file Articles of Corporation with the California Secretary of State. A corporation is one of the more complex business entities, and it is best to speak to a lawyer before creating one.

Limited Liability Company (LLC) – like a corporation, a limited liability company provides ownership protection from liabilities associated with the business. (For example, if someone sues the business, the owner’s assets are not at risk, only the business assets are.) An LLC is generally cheaper and easier to set up than a corporation, but more expensive than a sole proprietorship. To do so requires filing Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) with the State of CA. You must also complete an operating agreement describing the affairs and activities of the business and keep it at your office. (You don’t have to file it with the state.) It costs $800 a year to maintain an LLC in California.

Limited Partnership (LP) – a limited partnership must have at least one general partner and one limited partner. The general partner acts as the controlling partner and is personally liable for all of the business’s liabilities. The limited partner has a certain amount of protection from the liabilities of the company depending on their level of participation. (Definitely talk to a lawyer before setting up an LP.) In CA, you will need to file a Certificate of Limited Partnership (Form LP-1) with the Secretary of State to set up an LP.

General Partnership (GP) – to form a GP in CA you must have two or more people who own the business. Generally speaking, all of the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, although the details in this regard may change depending on the nature of a given claim and the desires of the claimant. Profits are taxed as personal income of the owners. (Like with an LP and Corporation, it is best talking to a lawyer before setting up a GP.) To register a GP in CA, you will need to file a Statement of Partnership Authority (Form GP-1) with the CA Secretary of State; however some GPs don’t register at the state level at all.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – LLPs are partnerships that work in specific industries such as public accounting, architecture, engineering, law, and land surveying, or that provide services to a CA registered LLP that practices public accountancy or law, or to a foreign LLP. LLPs are required by law to maintain certain minimum levels of insurance. To register an LLP in CA you must file an Application to File a Limited Liability Partnership (Form LLP-1) with the CA Secretary of State.

Step 2: Is The Name I Want for My Business Available?

A quick preliminary (but not final) search for a business name’s availability in CA can be done through this link. You can also do a trademark search with US Patent and Trademark Office and do a simple Google search to see if anything comes up with the name you want. Next, follow this link to read the name availability section of the CA Secretary of State website which has lots of relevant information.

A couple of other things to keep in mind (more detail is available on the Secretary of State website noted above):

  • A name for a corporation can be used if it isn’t the same as or too similar to an existing name recorded with the California Secretary of State or if the name is not misleading to the public.
  • A name for a limited liability company can be used if it is unique on the records of the California Secretary of State or if the name is not misleading to the public.
  • A name for a limited partnership may be adopted if it is unique on the records of the California Secretary of State.

Setting Up a Business in Orange County, CA

Step 3: Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN)

An EIN (federal employer identification number) is used by the federal government when taxing businesses and is basically the business version of a social security number. Corporations, limited liabilities companies, and partnerships need EINs. Sole proprietorships may not need one, depending on the type of business they are engaging in. To find out if you need EIN, start with the IRS webpage entitled: Do I Need an EIN?

Even if you don’t technically need one you may want to get one anyway. Why? Using an EIN instead of your social security may protect you from identity theft. If you work as an independent contractor you may have to provide either your social security number or EIN to your clients, and the more people that know your social security number the greater the risk of fraud. Having an EIN also indicates to clients that you are an independent businessperson rather than an employee, which they may prefer, and also may be required to set up a business bank account. (Which you likely will want to do.)

Getting an EIN is fast, easy, and free. Just use IRS EIN Assistant. In order to complete the process you will need the following information:

  • The mailing address and street address associated with the business.
  • The legal name of the business or individual, and the trade name, if you have one.
  • If the business is a corporation, the state or country where it was incorporated.
  • The type of business you are forming.
  • The main activities the business will engage in.
  • The reason you are applying.
  • The social security number of the ‘responsible party’. (If the responsible party is also a business entity than its EIN will be used.)
  • If the business is an LLC, the number of members.
  • The date the business was started or acquired.
  • The date when wages were paid the first time. (If there have been any wages.)
  • The greatest amount of employees you anticipate having over the next twelve months.

Step 4: Apply for the Relevant Permits and Registrations

Depending on the type of business you will be engaging in and where you are located you may need a wide variety of permits and/or registrations. A great place to start is CalGold, with the CA Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. After that be sure to check with your county and city governments to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

Tips on How to Register Your New Business With the CA Government

Step 5: Setup Applicable Bank and Credit Card Accounts

Setting up a bank account and credit cards used solely by your business can help to keep your business and personal finance separate. (This is true whether you are setting up a business in Orange County or anywhere else!) This can make it easier to track your business activities which will help you to stay organized, facilitate strategic decision making, and make things a lot easier come tax time. (Having a good bookkeeper – like My OC Bookkeeper can help a lot with these things too. Give us a call!) The accounts can also help you to establish a credit history for your business, which can be helpful if you ever want to set up lines of credit or qualify for business loans.

Opening the accounts often requires an EIN, copies of your business licenses, and a document signed by the business owners saying that you are authorized to open them. The U.S. Small Business Administration has some great information on specific things you are likely to need depending on the type of business structure you have.

Step 6: Satisfy Ongoing Requirements of Business Ownership

After successfully setting up your business there are some important things to remember:

  • If you setup a fictitious business name, i.e. dba, you will have to renew it every five years.
  • Corporations and LLCs in CA have to pay at least $800 in franchise tax every year. Learn more about this from the CA Franchise Tax Board.
  • If you setup an LLC you will have to file a Statement of Information every two years.
  • If you setup a Corporation you will have to file a Statement of Information annually.

Useful Websites for When You Are Starting a New Business

California Resources

California Secretary of State – if you are starting a business in CA, this is the place to start. Important information on all kinds of topics.

California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development – the parent site for the CA Business Portal. A wider array of topics and resources, but a great place to learn about business and economics in CA.

California Franchise Tax Board – they handle personal and corporate income tax in California.

California Tax Service Center – a government created website designed to help you navigate the confusing world of taxes. A good supplement to the CA Franchise Tax Board site.

The California Green Business Network – a certification service for green businesses in CA.

California Chamber of Commerce – a nonprofit advocate for CA businesses. You can find wide ranging resources ranging from updates on business related legislation to compliance tips to information on human resources, among other things.

Federal Resources

IRS – The internal revenue service. Take a look for info on federal taxes.

U.S. Small Business Administration – great tips on starting a business from the federal government.

There you have it. My OC Bookkeeper’s guide to setting up a business in Orange County, CA. Do you have any follow up questions? Are you interested in starting a new business but haven’t spoken to a bookkeeper or business strategist? My OC Bookkeeper is the best bookkeeping, tax, and business strategy expert in Orange County, CA, and Southern California for that matter. (Possibly America.) Take a look at our website. Enjoy our extremely educational blog. And reach out to us. Let’s do great things together!

Finally, take a look at the video below for some great information on starting a business in CA , or checkout our YouTube channel for more great content.