A list of the top 10 employers in Cambridge — meaning the companies employing the most people, with the list including the official figures of how many people that is — is a moving target, and all the more so in a recession. But don’t fixate on the figures and look at the list as a snapshot from last year; look at it as informative, and possibly reassuring, in its own right. We are a city of education, government, health and biotech … and, squeaking in at the bottom, high-tech is represented as well.

This list includes information for job seekers, who are reminded that Cambridge also hosts the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nonprofit research group responsible for saying whether we’re in a recession. The offices are at 1050 Massachusetts Ave. We’re just sayin’.

The top 10 employers in 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available) are, in descending order:

100909i-Harvard

Harvard | Employees: 11,315 | Contact: Harvard, especially now that it has oozed over the Charles River into Allston, is too big to have an address. Its Web site gives a primary address of “Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138.” There’s also no phone number for potential employees, either, so just go to employment.harvard.edu (where you’ll find Harvard is on AARP’s list of Best Employees for Workers Over 50). | The blurb: “Harvard University, which celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1986, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.”

100909i-MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology |  Employees: 7,820 | Contact: With almost 3,500 fewer employees than Harvard, the institute isn’t too big to have a regular mailing address: 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139-4307. Of course, that’s the address of the famed Infinite Corridor. Instead of a central employment office, there are 40 links to click here — and only a main phone number, (617) 253-1000. | The blurb: “MIT is devoted to the advancement of knowledge and education of students in areas that contribute to or prosper in an environment of science and technology.”

100909i-Cambridge

City of Cambridge | Employees: 2,820 | Contact: The city’s personnel department is at 795 Massachusetts Ave.,
Cambridge, MA 02139-3219, in Room 309, and can be called at (617) 349-4332. The Web site is here. | The blurb: “Cambridge is a city where people of diverse backgrounds and experience live and work side by side. Our residents come from many cultures, include many races, and speak many languages. We are committed to the idea that city government services should be provided by representatives of all our people. We are building a workforce that reflects that commitment.

100909i-MAH

Mount Auburn Hospital | Employees: 1,969 |  Contact: 330 Mount Auburn St.,
Cambridge, MA 02138
or call (617) 499-5066 … or click here. | The blurb: “Mount Auburn Hospital is a vibrant regional teaching hospital closely affiliated with the Harvard Medical School. Our caregivers have been  valued members of the community for well over a century.”

100909i-Novartis

Novartis | Employees: 1,629 | Contact: Novartis has a ridiculously large presence worldwide and even just in Cambridge, where it has eight addresses, four on Massachusetts Avenue. So you’d best just go to the Web site. | The blurb: “An innovative health care company with pharmaceutical treatments for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, infectious disease and cancer.” Last year, the company was No. 2 among its ilk on Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” and No. 2 in Barron’s “World’s Most Respected Companies.” It appears to be more admired than respected.

100909i-Biogen-Idec

Biogen Idec | Employees: 1,596 | Contact: The company wants you to send e-mail. If you prefer to annoy your potential employer, its corporate headquarters is at 14 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142. You can also call (617) 679-2000. | The blurb: “Biogen Idec creates new standards of care in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is a global leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative therapies. Patients in more than 90 countries benefit from Biogen Idec’s significant products that address diseases such as lymphoma, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In 2008, Biogen Idec’s total revenues grew 29 percent over 2007, to $4.1 billion.”

100909i-CHA

Cambridge Health Alliance | Employees: 1,413 |  Contact: The alliance’s main address is at1493 Cambridge St.,
Cambridge, MA 02139, but the Human Resources office is at (781) 306-8700. (Or click here, of course.) | The blurb: “Cambridge Health Alliance is an award-winning healthcare system serving the communities north of Boston. It includes three hospital campuses (Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Network Health plan. With this unique model, CHA is able to offer the finest health services, a diverse working environment, and a premier training experience for those interested in community-based medicine.”

100909i-Genzyme

Genzyme | Employees: 1,391 | Contact: Corporate offices and the Human Resources department are at 500 Kendall St., Cambridge, MA 02142, but can be reached (not physically) by calling (617) 252-7629 or clicking here. | The blurb: It’s on the terse side. “Products targeted on rare inherited disorders, kidney disease, orthopaedics, transplant and immune disease, cancer and diagnostic testing.

100909i-federal

Federal government | Employees: 1,286 | Contact: The office at 55 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142-1093, hosts offices for the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Transportation Department — if those are different — as well as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, The Technical Reference Center and a DOT credit union. Something vaguely identified as the U.S. Government is at 250 Main St. and can be reached at (800) 275-8777. Good luck. | The blurb: The government needs no blurb.

100909i-Draper

Draper Laboratory | Employees: 1,175 | Contact: The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc.
is at 555 Technology Square,
Cambridge, MA 02139-3563,
and can be reached by calling (617) 258-1000. The company seems to prefer you visit its Web site’s careers page here.  | The blurb: “A research and development laboratory, employing more than 850 engineers, scientists, and technicians on a broad array of programs for government and commercial sponsors among its 1,384 employees.” Did you notice? The ranks of Draper employees seem to have gone up since last year — unless the company just hasn’t updated its Web site.

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