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The World’s Largest Employers

Who employs more people than anyone else in the world? I once heard it was Indian Railways, but that was quite a few years ago. They still made the list, but are far from the top. This chart is from Forbes.

The U.S. Department of Defense is the #1 employer, even as the number of active duty personnel continues to decrease. Of 3.2 million employees, only 1.7 million are active duty military. Defense contractors and civilian employees make up the rest. Although the Chinese military comes in second, the size of China’s military as a percentage of its population is much smaller. China has 1.4 billion people.   

Walmart is the largest private employer in the world. There are now over 11,000 Walmart stores in the world. I don’t know how they number them all now, but I worked for store #80 back in the days when Sam Walton could walk in any minute (1979-82).  

The number of McDonald’s employees includes franchises. McDonald’s has 35,000 outlets in 119 countries.

The National Health Service is a special case. The government agency covers the four countries of the UK, and comprises the vast majority of healthcare workers there. In contrast, the U.S. has over 18 million healthcare workers, but they work for many different companies.

China National Petroleum and the State Grid Corporation of China are both state-owned companies. The oil company feeds the utility, and if they were combined, they would be at the #2 spot on this list.  

If you exclude government agencies, the list is a bit different. This screenshot is from Wikipedia.

Hon Hai Precision Industry is also known as Foxconn. They make our iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, Kindles, Xboxes, and Wiis, so there’s no puzzle about their growth.  

Sinopec is an oil company in China. Although it is not a government agency, it is owned by the state. You say tomayto, I say tomahto.

The British firm GS4 is a security company with operations in 125 countries.

The Tata Group is a 147-year-old Indian company grown into a conglomerate that has a hand in  everything from telecoms to industrial chemicals to cars to coffee.  

If you don't work for any of these employers, I bet you know more than one person who does.


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Miss Cellania, your comment about Sam Walton walking into any WalMart at any time made me remember how my mother-in-law was in a WalMart's in the Homosassa area, Florida and she was sitting on a bench in the store when Sam Walton sat down next to her and had a pleasant conversation with her. She had no idea who he was until much later when she saw his picture on the tv. He wanted to know how she liked or disliked the store. wow!
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