From retail to food service to package delivery, the ten largest employers in the United States span a range of different industries. Whether you are seeking a job or running a business and wondering what the biggest competitors in your industry are doing, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers. Below, find the ten biggest employers in the country plus links to the background check and hiring policies for each of these companies.
Note that employee numbers for each business do not necessarily reflect the number of employees in the United States alone—most of the companies on this list have global footprints.
The Company: Walmart
Number of Employees: 2.3 million
Walmart occupies the number-one position on many lists. In 2018, the retail chain reported more than $500 billion in revenues. That figure makes Walmart the largest company in the world by revenue—a fact reflected in the company’s number-one position on the Fortune Global list. Walmart’s 2.3 million global employees make it the largest private employer on the planet. In total, Walmart operates more than 11,700 stores in 28 countries around the world—though they don’t all go by the same name: Walmart also operates Sam’s Club retail stores. Roughly 5,350 of Walmart’s stories are located on United States soil.
The Company: Amazon
Number of Employees: 541,900
Amazon sits at number eight on the 2018 Fortune 500 list but clocks in at number two regarding employees. Since it was founded in 1994, Amazon has reshaped the retail landscape not just in the United States but around the world. Amazon can be credited for the rapid rise of internet shopping and is today the largest internet retailer in the world. In addition to selling virtually anything you could think of through its website, Amazon also operates a publishing division, a film and television studio, and numerous electronics lines.
The Company: Kroger
Number of Employees: 443,000
Founded in the 1880s in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger stands as the largest supermarket chain in the United States. The company has more than 2,700 grocery stores spread across 35 states and Washington, D.C.
The Company: Yum! Brands
Number of Employees: 420,000
Yum! Brands is the collective name given to the company that operates American fast food restaurants Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and WingStreet. Yum! Brands is based in Louisville, Kentucky, but has restaurants located in 135 countries and territories throughout the world. Most of those stores (more than 43,000) are franchised, with fewer than 1,500 being company-owned. These counts reflect many restaurants in the United States, including 5,600 Taco Bell locations and 6,500 Pizza Hut locations. WingStreet shares locations with Pizza Hut in roughly 5,000 restaurants throughout the United States and Canada.
The Company: The Home Depot
Number of Employees: 406,000
Based in Atlanta, The Home Depot operates home improvement stores in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. The company also has stores throughout Mexico and Canada. In total, the company has more than 2,200 stories in North America, most of them (1,980) in the United States.
The Company: IBM
Number of Employees: 380,000
International Business Machines Corporation is a company with its hands in many pots. IBM holds more patents than any other U.S. business, credited with inventing the ATM, the hard disk, the magnetic stripe card, and SQL programming language among other innovations. IBM is a manufacturer of both hardware and software and a provider of IT services in addition to its role in technology research. The company owns an array of other businesses, including PwC Consulting and The Weather Company.
The Company: McDonald's
Number of employees: 375,000
Perhaps the most iconic fast food restaurant in the world, McDonald’s has more than 37,000 locations worldwide. More than 14,000 of those restaurants are in the United States, where McDonald’s was founded in the 1940s and where its headquarters remains today. While Subway has more store locations, McDonald’s stands as the world’s largest restaurant chain regarding revenue.
The Company: Berkshire Hathaway
Number of Employees: 367,700
Berkshire Hathaway is a conglomerate holding company that owns many recognizable and well-known companies. Berkshire Hathaway holdings include GEICO, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Pampered Chef, and BNSF Railroad. The company also has majority stock holdings in numerous companies (including Kraft Heinz) and minority holdings in several others (including American Express, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, and Apple). Berkshire Hathaway is perhaps most famous for its chairman and CEO: influential billionaire Warren Buffet.
The Company: FedEx
Number of Employees: 335, 767
Founded in 1971, FedEx is a delivery services company based in Memphis, Tennessee. The company is known for providing fast (often overnight) shipping. FedEx created the package tracking technology that other carrier services—from the United States Postal Services to UPS—now use regularly.
The Company: United Parcel Services
Number of Employees: 335,520
Speaking of UPS, the United Parcel Service has almost the same number of employees as FedEx. Like FedEx, UPS is known primarily as a package shipping and delivery service company. However, UPS also has a hand in the broader logistics market and offers services to businesses seeking assistance with supply chain management.
Jobs with these companies range from warehouse work and retail store floor positions to jobs in the corporate boardroom. In most cases, the most common jobs with each business on this list are on-the-ground positions, including cashiers and sales associates in retail and food service businesses; delivery drivers for UPS and FedEx; and individuals in charge of order fulfillment for Amazon. Based on the wide range of potential open positions with each company at any moment, salaries, benefits, hiring standards, and other factors differ significantly.