The 10 Largest Employers in America

5. United Parcel Service
> Total employees: 399,000
> Industry: Delivery and freight
> 1-yr. stock price change: +12.9%

United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) had about 323,000 employees in the United States alone at the end of 2012, not including any seasonal hires. The majority of these workers were employed through contracts the company has with the Teamsters and other unions. The company agreed to a new, five-year national master agreement with the Teamsters, which went into effect August 1. The new contract guarantees rising salaries over the life of the deal, as well as the addition of new full-time jobs. Much of the company’s workforce, however, is still employed only part time. At the end of last year, 46% of the company’s 328,000 hourly employees, as well as 36% of management personnel, were employed part time.

4. IBM
> Total employees: 434,246
> Industry: Technology
> 1-yr. stock price change: -8.3%

International Business Machines Corp (NYSE: IBM) employed more than 434,000 individuals at the end of 2012. The company has one of the nation’s highest-skilled workforces. For 20 straight years, the company has received more patents from the U.S. Patent Office than any other business, with nearly 6,500 awarded in 2012 alone. Additionally, five IBM employees have won a Nobel Prize. But despite the company’s research accomplishments, IBM is still sensitive to its bottom line. Earlier this year the company cut more than 3,300 jobs in the United States. and Canada. In August, with falling demand for new servers, the company announced it would have to furlough much of its U.S. hardware team for a week to cut costs.

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3. McDonald’s
> Total employees: 440,000
> Industry: Fast food
> 1-yr. stock price change: +9.3%

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) had a total of 440,000 employees at the end of 2012. In recent decades, fairly or not, McDonald’s has become associated with poor quality jobs, known as “McJobs.” Merriam-Webster defines a McJob as “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.” McDonald’s has been in the news recently for offering a budget calculator that employees can use to balance their income and expenses. The company provided a sample monthly budget that makes unrealistic assumptions such as employees working two jobs, paying just $600 per month in rent and somehow finding health care insurance that costs just $20 per month. In 2011, a McDonald’s recruiting drive led to 62,000 new jobs.

2. Yum! Brands
> Total employees: 523,000
> Industry: Fast food
> 1-yr. stock price change: +9.9%

Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) — owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut — had more than half a million employees at the end of 2012. The vast majority of its workforce were hourly workers. Although the company does not break out its employee counts by country, many of its employees are based abroad. At the end of last year, less than half of the Yum! Brand stores, franchised or company-owned, were located in the United States. Additionally, 4,547 of the 7,578 company-owned locations were in China, where KFC is the largest fast-food chain. The company’s success in the U.S. is still a major driver of job growth. Taco Bell has added 15,000 jobs due to the success of its Doritos Locos taco.

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1. Walmart
> Total employees: 2.2 million
> Industry: Retail
> 1-yr. stock price change: +1.7%

At the end of the 2013 fiscal year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) employed nearly 2.2 million employees around the globe. Of these, more than 1.3 million worked in the United States, meaning the retail giant’s U.S. workforce is larger than the global workforce of any other American business. Walmart de México y Centroamérica, which is the largest private employer in Mexico, had nearly a quarter of a million employees in Central America as of April. Recently, the Washington, D.C., city council passed a bill requiring large retailers to pay their workers at least $12.50 an hour (well above the city’s minimum wage). This has reignited the debate over whether Walmart provides an adequate wage for its workers.