World's Largest Employer (You'll Never Guess)

Department of Defense world's largest employerWhich organization is the world's largest employer?

Here are some hints:

  • It employs roughly one in 10 citizens.
  • It's in the United States.
  • It's not Walmart.

No, it's not IBM or Microsoft. Or Apple. Or Google. Or any tech giant.

Stumped? It's the U.S. Department of Defense.

With a total of 3.2 million staff members, the DOD tops the list of the world's largest employers in a list put together by the BBC and compiled from global company and government information.

As the BBC points out, the information used to make the largest-employer list was far from standard, based on statistics provided by each entity. And in the case of the U.S. Department of Defense, the total number of employees includes civilian workers, as well as those in uniform.

China's military, the People's Liberation Army, came in second on the BBC list, but it's hard to know how accurate that is, given that country's lack of transparency.

And DOD is also primed for some cuts. With the goal of reducing America's defense budget by $487 billion over 10 years, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced a plan earlier this year that would feature the elimination of 100,000 service posts. Eighty percent of the staff reductions are to be in the Army, with the other 20 percent tagged for the Marines, according to USA Today.

The plan is pending approval by Congress. But it has already attracted the opposition from critics concerned about a host of issues including jobs. And those critics say the resulting blows in employment will extend beyond the walls of the Pentagon itself. "Only about 35 percent [of the projected job losses] are in the aerospace and military equipment manufacturing sectors," the Washington Post quoted George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller as warning Congress at the end of last year. "In fact, only 125,000 of those are manufacturing jobs specific to the production of these products, these military hardware. The other 65 percent are jobs on Main Street."

The Defense Department is nevertheless primed to remain among the top world employers regardless of the outcome of the debate over its budget. And it is joined in the current top 10 by two other national armed forces, those of India and China. In fact, government entities comprise seven of the top 10, with the other three spots taken up by Walmart, McDonald's and Foxconn, the Taiwan-based producer of electronics such as the Apple iPad.

Foxconn's placement on the list was of particular note, given its plan to hire robots to replace humans. According to the tech news site, the Gadget Fan, Foxconn is looking to increase its robot staff from 10,000 to 300,000 in the next three years.

Here's the Top 10 (with staff size in parentheses):

  1. U.S. Department of Defense (3.2 million)
  2. People's Liberation Army (2.3 million)
  3. Walmart (2.1 million)
  4. McDonald's (1.9 million)
  5. U.K. National Health Service (1.7 million)
  6. China National Petroleum Corporation (1.6 million)
  7. State Corporation of China (1.5 million)
  8. Indian Railways (1.4 million)
  9. Indian Armed Forces (1.3 million)
  10. Hon Hai Precision Industry [Foxconn] (1.2 million)



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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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11 Comments

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Amir

It is so unfortunate to see the largest employer in the war business instead of being in health, education or infrastructure. Those 3.2 million don't include thousands of war-mongers and lobbyists who are hell-bent on creating more wars across the world, ensuring their employment and creating more jobs to kill as many humans as possible via targeted killings behind any excuse. I bet none of these war-mongers have any true love towards their own, otherwise they'd quit such a horrendous work and start working towards peace, prosperity and mutual respect. If given a choice, I'd be a peace-keeper and not wage wars in the name of peace.

April 26 2012 at 4:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bud Wood

WIth 7 of the top 10 organizations being government organizations, evidently there is minimum productivity associated with those masses of peoples involved in non-productive activities.

And there's a concern about losing jobs?! What about the loss of any pretense of productivity?

April 25 2012 at 5:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hightravis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY

April 23 2012 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Johnny Dangerously

The War Department is simply a branch of the US GOVERNMENT, so the REAL ANSWER is THE US GOVERNMENT IS THE LARGEST EMPLOYER IN THE WORLD. Maybe somebody could come up with the TOTAL COUNT. _MAYBE_ that's the real reason our government just keeps getting bigger and bigger -- because the majority of people in the use WORK for the government.

April 17 2012 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MAT Theriot

- Create a FLAT TAX - that would eliminate 80,000 IRS Jobs but would also effect CPA's and
"Tax-Preparers"
- Do NOT allow allow Congress to VOTE themselves a Raise.
- NO RAISE if there is a Deficit and NO Raise unless the Military also gets a Raise of the same amount.
- Eliminate all unnecessary Government spending (better said than done).
i.e. Excessive "Vacations" with Family/Friends to Exotic locations
Excessive travel, to/from "Home", with Family and Friends in a Government-Provided Jet.
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies in Hawaii.......For 5 DAYS!!!!...C'mon!!!!!! Jeez!

What else????
Inspector General needs to start putting the "Smack-Down"!!!!

April 17 2012 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Quark Hadren

I've found that what 'isn't' said is often far more telling that what is said.

For example, why did the study choose to limit it to just the Dept of Defense? If the DoD comes out as the largest employer on this list, what does that say about the size of U.S. government as a whole? Double that number work to include civilians working for the U.S. government, according the U.S. Census Bureau. (Something I found amazing is the Bureau says that State and Local Governments Employed 16.6 Million Full-Time Equivalent Employees in 2010!!)

And yes, psmhector is right. The articles statement that 1 in 10 citizens is employed by DoD is blatantly wrong. Fact checker should be fired. 1 in 100 is correct.

April 16 2012 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
swifty

ALSO:

They think that because that was the only one they lost.
They would have lost twice to Germany if not for us.

France did lose twice to Germany and we gave them back their country both times. For that. all they have for us is ridicule and scorn. NEVER AGAIN. Let the white flag them selves to slavery.

April 15 2012 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
swifty

They think that because that was the only one they lost.
They would have lost twice to Germany if not for us.

April 15 2012 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
psmhector

bad facts, bad math, poor schooling. The minute I saw the headline I was suspect.

"DOD employes 1 in 10 americans"... "3,2 million employees"? so the population of the U.S. is 32 million?

try 1% NOT 10%. It's 1 in a hundred (3.2 million employees, from a population of 330 million. With such a simple and obvious error, what else is amiss in your stories...

April 14 2012 at 10:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to psmhector's comment
Jesus Santiago

They are not counting illegal immigrants or foreign citizens.....lol

April 15 2012 at 9:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
CJ

Instead of reducing the armed forces why don't they shut down bases that are in friendly countries around the world and bring those personnel to the US? If our troops that are policing the world would police our borders instead we wouldn't have an illegal immigration problem. We could make it much tougher for terrorist to get into the country and for them to do any damage if they do get in. Not to mention what an economic boost the US would enjoy with all that money being spent overseas now for these troops was spent here instead. We would save money from shutting down all these foreign bases we shouldn't have in the first place plus have a huge economic boost.

April 04 2012 at 3:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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