If you hate working at a small firm, where everyone knows everyone, and you'd like to be a small fish in a big pond, here's a list of America's largest employers based on worldwide workforces, according to CBSMarketWatch (free registration required):

  • McDonald's (NYSE:MCD): 1.5 million employees globally
  • Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT): 1.5 million
  • General Motors (NYSE:GM) (including GMAC and Hughes): 341,000 excluding contractors
  • United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS): 359,000
  • Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F): 350,000
  • IBM (NYSE:IBM): 316,000
  • General Electric (NYSE:GE): 315,000
  • Kroger (NYSE:KR): 312,000
  • Sears (NYSE:S): 275,000, not counting seasonal workers
  • J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP): 250,000

An interesting aside: Once you have a company's employee count, it can be insightful to crunch a few numbers with them. For example, here are a few stats for Wal-Mart and McDonald's, which each employs roughly the same number of people -- 1.5 million. Except for market capitalization, the numbers are taken from fiscal 2002 reports:

Per Worker McDonald's Wal-Mart
Market cap. $21,364 $156,406
Annual revenues $10,271 $163,016
Annual net income $596 $5,359
Cash $220 $1,839
Long-term debt $6,653 $14,097
Cash from operations
$1,927 $8,355

These numbers don't tell you everything, but they do reveal how big a powerhouse Wal-Mart is on a few fronts we don't usually think about. As always, a few calculations can help you understand a company better. Learn more about how to evaluate companies in our How-To Guides and online seminars.

If you'd like to talk shop about Wal-Mart and McDonald's, drop by their respective discussion boards. And if you're looking for a job, visit our Ask the Headhunter board.