Yes, it is if the layperson is aiming for awakening in this very life. Two of the factors of the eightfold path directly correspond to meditation - sati and samadhi.
Is the practice of Buddhism incomplete without meditation?
This might be a controversial answer, but yes. It is. Except for those who are born with immense conscious bandwidth, stable concentration and clear mindfulness meditation is an indispensable part of the spiritual path. This is the path of purification.
Over time, in certain Buddhist countries the goal of spiritual practice diverged between the laity and monastics.
The laypeople aim for a better rebirth and accumulate "merits". This is quite non-Buddhist in nature if you examine it closely as there is no one gaining merit, possessing merit or keeping track of merit. This is a modern adaptation and a very ego-self oriented one at that.
It is this divergence in certain Buddhist countries that gave rise to the belief that meditation is for monastics and the laity is there to support monastics and hope for a better rebirth.
It is an unfortunate misconception as teachers like most of the Thai Ajahns, Burmese Sayadaws, teachers of the Vipassana movement, Western teachers like Culadasa, and countless other teachers have spent their time to share the immensely valuable resources for us laypeople to practice. It is a blessing and we should not throw that away in the face of dogma.
Lastly, if you go into Mahayana , Vajrayana traditions there is no question that not only is meditation important to laypeople but laypeople can even guide other beings along the path.
All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness.