America's Ten Largest Employers

The largest companies in the US based on the number of workers worldwide are not necessarily the biggest in terms of revenue, profits or business locations. Some are much more efficient than others. Apple has fewer than 50,000 workers, but is the largest American tech company. Hewlett-Packard, which is only slightly smaller in sales, has 324,000 people. Apple may be more efficiently run, but it is also in a relatively small number of businesses while H-P makes everything from printers to PCs and has large services, consulting, and software operations.

The firms on the largest employer list are predominantly retail companies, which is to be expected. Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Kroger and McDonald’s are all among the top ten. Each not only has a large number of locations, which usually require a significant number of workers to staff them.

One of the facts 24/7 Wall St. examined in its evaluation of the ten largest American employers is the number of people they employ overseas.  Kroger has nearly no employees outside the United States, nor does it have any sales there. More than half of IBM’s revenue comes from outside America and so does close to two-thirds of its sales.

One of the great concerns of the US labor movement, some economists, and many politicians is that American jobs are being exported overseas to save money. Among the companies on the list there are some prime examples of this. IBM has been criticized for taking “American” jobs and transplanting them to India. But, in the case of most of these firms, jobs can only go overseas if it can be justified by the sales they generate.

These are America’s Ten Largest Employers.

10. Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC)

>Workers: 288,000
>Revenue: $134 billion.

Bank of America is one of the largest financial institutions in the world and is the largest bank holding company in the United States.  The firm operates in more than 40 countries and runs about 5,900 retail banking offices.  Running this many branches and serving about 57 million accounts worldwide has made BOA a major employer.

9. PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP)

>Workers: 294,000
>Revenue: $58 billion

PepsiCo owns the Quaker Oats, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito Lay and Pepsi brands. It makes, markets, and sells its products in more than 200 countries.  This global presence accounts for a major share of PepsiCo’s workforce, as it employs just 108,000 of its workforce.  Production, distribution, and even research and development, on which $488 million was spent in 2010, need large numbers of employees.  The need for plant and distribution center workers is the primary reason for the company’s high headcount.

8. Sears Holdings Corporation (Nasdaq: SHLD)

>Workers: 312,000
>Revenue: $43 billion.

Sears Holdings Corporation operates about 3,900 stores.  Although it is the country’s ninth-largest retailer by revenue, many of its stores, such as Sears and Kmart, require more employees than competitive retailers because of their diverse product line-ups.  The company also owns and operates 38 domestic distribution centers and 480 domestic store warehouses.

7. Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ)

>Workers: 324,000
>Revenue: $126 billion

Hewlett-Packard is the second-largest technology company in the world, with 2010 revenue of $126 billion.  About twice as much revenue came from overseas this past year compared with the US–$81.5 billion compared to $44.5 billion.  The largest portion of HP’s 2010 revenue, just under $35 billion, was from IT services, the great majority of which involves outsourcing service for other large companies.

6. The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR)

>Employees: 338,000
>Revenue: $82 billion

Kroger is the second largest general retailer in the country, behind Wal-Mart, and the largest grocery store chain.  Unlike most companies on this list, all of Kroger’s operations are domestic.  As of the end of January 2011, the company operated 2,460 supermarkets and multi-department stores, 784 convenience stores and 361 fine jewelry stores.

5. Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT)

>Workers: 355,000
>Revenue: $67 billion

Target is the second largest discount retailer in the US, behind only Wal-Mart.  Due to the company’s big-box store format, each of its 1,750 location require a large team of workers.  The number of people who Target employs balloons to 400,000 during its peak season, between Thanksgiving and early December.

4. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCD)

>Workers: 400,000
>Revenue: $24 billion

McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast food restaurant. According to the company’s website, the firm’s 32,000 restaurants operate in 117 countries, serving more than 60 million people each day. Recently, as an attempt to stimulate the economy, McDonald’s announced its first “national hiring day” on which it began a search for 50,000 new workers. Very few companies can go on a hiring spree and make a legitimate claim to actually improving the national jobless rate.

3. United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS)

>Workers: 400,000
>Revenue: $50 billion

UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company.  The company delivers approximately 15.6 million packages each day in more than 220 countries and territories across the world. The company needs to maintain a high number of employees to operate its 99,800 vehicles and 527 aircraft.  UPS also owns 1,000 customer centers and 4,700 UPS stores.

2. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)

>Workers: 436,000
>Revenue: $100 billion.

IBM is among the largest US companies that employ workers outside the US. A great deal of the firm’s outsourcing and R&D operations are not based in America. Many of its 430 data centers are also located offshore. IBM has a large international sales force to market its scores of products and services. Only about 40% of IBM sales come from North America

1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT)

>Workers: 2.1 million
>Revenue: $422 billion

Wal-Mart is both the largest private employer in the world as well as the largest company ranked by annual revenue. The next five companies on the global list by sales are all oil firms–Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, China Petroleum, and PetroChina. One of the most impressive things about Wal-Mart is that, unlike most other companies on this list, it has only been incorporated for a little over four decades. Wal-Mart’s most rapid growing businesses are outside the US, particularly in China. Wal-Mart’s revenue growth in the US has nearly stopped.

Douglas A. McIntyre & Charles Stockdale

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