Each of America’s 10 largest employers has a workforce of more than 300,000 people. Some of the companies, such as Walmart and McDonald’s, offer mostly low-wage jobs. Others, such as IBM and General Electric, are leading technological innovators and their workforces are more highly skilled and better compensated. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 American companies that, combined, employed more than 5.6 million workers.
Several of the nation’s largest employers are retailers. Most famously, Wal-Mart Stores, which owns Walmart and Sam’s Club, employs roughly 2.2 million people worldwide and is the largest private employer in the United States. Target and Kroger are also among America’s largest employers and may still add to their workforces. Target recently has begun expanding into Canada, while Kroger recently purchased rival Harris Teeter.
Like large retailers, fast-food chains also require plenty of low-skilled labor in order to operate their stores and expand. The successful launch of the Doritos Locos taco at Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell led the company to estimate it had added 15,000 jobs. McDonald’s has employed a large number of low-skilled workers for so long that such jobs are often derided as “McJobs” for their low pay and limited career opportunities.
But not all of America’s largest employers have a low-skilled workforce. Technology companies such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard conduct research and offer a wide range of products and services, requiring them to hire high-skilled workers. IBM has been the nation’s leader in patent approvals for the past 20 years, likely due to both the size and talent of its workforce.
Conglomerates such as General Electric also employ hundreds of thousands of workers. When GE recently announced its plans to expand its software capabilities, it also stated it would be hiring thousands of engineers.
Several of the nation’s largest employers have developed reputations for being unfriendly toward unions. In 2011, when it appeared a Target store in Valley Stream, New York, might unionize, the company voiced its opposition to unions. Around that time, a company-produced video emerged, warning employees about joining unions. By contrast, Kroger and UPS have largely unionized workforces.
Based on a screening of S&P 500 companies, 24/7 Wall St. determined the 10 largest employers based on the total number of full-time and part-time workers at the end of each company’s most-recent fiscal year. Year-over-year changes in stock price are as of August 20, 2013.
These are America’s largest employers.