The 6 largest employers globally

Oluwatosin Jegede

The global economy is on shaky ground. With governments in advanced countries cutting back on spending and businesses bracing for a downturn, we face a mounting jobs crisis. Surprisingly, even as many nations contend with high unemployment rates, the largest employers, both in the West and in emerging markets, are expanding their workforces.

Using resources like Reuters, global stock indices, company websites, and annual reports, we’ve put together a list highlighting the world’s largest employers. We’ve focused on full-time staff, with exceptions for businesses that predominantly employ part-time workers. In such cases, we’ve clearly noted the inclusion of part-time staff.

Largest employers in the world today

These leading employers span various sectors: from finance and telecom to energy, military, and retail. Let’s dive into who these giants are and the significant roles they play in the global job market.

1. The US Department of Defence: 2.86 million people

The US Department of Defence (DoD) sits at the top as the world’s biggest employer. They employ a massive 2.86 million people. This number includes both everyday citizens working civilian jobs and those serving in the military.

It’s not just about numbers; the US military has the most members compared to any other armed force. And, in 2020, they had a defense budget of $738 billion, which was the highest globally.

So, who makes up this 2.86 million? As of June 2022, 1.34 million are active-duty members. These are the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and guardians actively serving. Besides them, the DoD also employs 778,000 National Guard members and reservists. On top of that, over 747,000 civilians work for the DoD.

All these people work under the DoD, whose main office is the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. This massive department’s goal is simple yet vital: to have the forces ready to stop wars and to keep our country safe.

2. Walmart: 2.2 million employees

Walmart stands out as the biggest private company that employs people. They have a whopping 2.2 million employees. Most of these employees, around 1.4 million, work in the United States. But Walmart also has a strong presence in countries like Canada and Mexico. In just one quarter, they made sales of $109 billion internationally.

Founded by Sam Walton in 1962 in Arkansas, Walmart has grown into the world’s largest retailer. Today, they have over 9,600 stores in 28 different countries. Because of their size, they’re often called the world’s best employer.

The Walton family, who started Walmart, still owns a big part (48%) of the company. This ownership makes them one of the richest families globally.

3. People’s Liberation Army (PLA): 2.185 million

The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA for short, is massive. With 2.185 million members, both active and reserve, it’s the world’s biggest army. The PLA is divided into five main parts: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and Strategic Support Force. Recently, they’ve made big changes to modernize the army.

The PLA started in 1927 during the Nanchang Uprising. Back then, it was called the Red Army. With leaders like Mao Zedong and Zhu De, it grew fast from 5,000 men in 1929 to 200,000 by 1933. But they faced tough times, especially during the Long March, where many didn’t survive. Later, they teamed up with the Nationalists to fight against the Japanese. After World War II, this army, now called the PLA, beat the Nationalists. This victory led to the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

4. McDonald’s: 1.7 million

McDonald’s is huge. Not just in food but in jobs too. With 1.7 million workers, it’s one of the top ten employers in the world. It’s also one of the three big American companies on that list. People know McDonald’s everywhere, thanks to its famous brand.

Ray Kroc started McDonald’s in 1955. Today, there are more than 33,000 McDonald’s restaurants. And here’s a cool fact: over 80% of these restaurants are run by local business owners. These are called franchisees. These restaurants are not just in America.

In April, McDonald’s did something big. They had a “national hiring day.” On this day, they planned to hire 50,000 Americans. But they hired even more – 62,000! That’s a lot for just one day.

When it comes to sales, Europe is McDonald’s biggest customer. In 2010, Europe bought 41% of what McDonald’s sold. The U.S. was next with 34%. The rest of the world made up the remaining 21%.

5. China National Petroleum Corporation: 1.5 million

China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC for short, is a big deal in China. They control all the oil and gas production there. With a team of 1.5 million people, they’re also huge employers.

This isn’t just a China thing. CNPC works in 30 countries! They have drilling rigs and refineries in places like Azerbaijan, Canada, Venezuela, and Iran.

In fact, CNPC is the biggest oil and gas company in China. Right now, they’re doing projects in countries like Iraq, Syria, and Uzbekistan.

But it’s not all good news. Since 2005, there have been some accidents. Six people lost their lives. And some places, like rivers and oceans, got polluted.

6. Indian Armed Forces: 1.45 million employees

The Indian Armed Forces are big. They have over 1.45 million active members. This includes the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Plus, they have another 1.2 million people ready as reserve soldiers.

Who controls them? The Ministry of Defence in India does. And they’ve been spending more on the military lately. The budget went up from $56.64 billion in 2016 to $71.12 billion in 2019.

Here’s some cool info: The Indian Armed Forces are the second-largest in the world. They also have the biggest volunteer army with 1.4 million active people. When it comes to money, they’re third in the world for defense spending. And when we talk about strength, they rank fourth in the Global Firepower Index. That’s impressive!

The world’s largest employers play a huge role in the global economy and security

From global defense departments to retail giants and petroleum corporations, the world’s largest employers play a monumental role in the economy, security, and day-to-day lives of millions.

These organizations not only provide employment but also influence global policies, market trends, and technological advancements. Their impact resonates through various sectors and regions, underscoring the interconnected nature of today’s global landscape.

Read also: The 5 biggest companies worldwide by market capitalization

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