There are two answers to which organization employs the most Americans. One is the federal government. The Hill puts that figure at about 2.1 million. The other is a publicly-traded company owned, in part, by one of the richest families in the world.
The topography of corporate America has changed radically since the middle of the last century. In 1960, almost all the largest companies were manufacturers or oil companies. General Motors and Ford held two of the spots at the top of the Fortune 500 that year. Exxon held the other. International Business Machines was the largest tech firm, ranked 27th on the list. It would be inconceivable that there would be tech companies on the list in any number.
Today, several tech companies have well over 125,000 workers, and are, for the most part, growing quickly. This includes Google parent Alphabet, with 135,000, Apple with 147,000, Oracle with 135,000, and Microsoft with 163,000. Amazon.com, built on the foundation of e-commerce and cloud computing, is the second-largest employer in the country with 1.3 million. And, it has added to that total by several hundred thousand in the last few years.
A large number of the largest companies in America today are retailers, many of which did not exist in 1960. These include Starbucks (349,000), Home Depot (505,000), and Costco (215,000).
The largest employer in America is also the company with the greatest revenue. Walmart has 2.3 million employees and had revenue of $559 billion last year. Walmart is well known for its low wages. The retailer recently raised its minimum wage from $11 to $12 an hour, according to CNBC. The situation has triggered a public relations nightmare for the retailer. The Guardian recently ran a story in which the author wrote:
Walmart has faced criticism for years over low wages, working conditions, a reliance on keeping workers on part-time schedules and wage theft.
Walmart’s success has made the family of founder Sam Walton a fortune. Forbes lists the Walton family as the richest in the country with a net worth of $247 billion.