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The Hiring Gap

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The Dow has recovered 75 percent of its pre-crash value, but unemployment remains high, at 8.8 percent and dropping verrrry slowly. It’s a stark illustration of a hard truth: Being a top American business no longer necessarily means employing lots of American workers. Here, a comparison of the ten most valuable U.S. companies now and in 1964, at the height of the country’s post-WWII boom, when a thriving stock market still came with plentiful jobs.

1964
Company: AT&T (1)
Market Cap: $254 Billion
Employees: 758,611

Company: GM (2)
Market Cap: $201 Billion
Employees: 660,977

Company: Standard Oil
Market Cap: $140 Billion
Employees: 147,000

Company: IBM
Market Cap: $102 Billion
Employees: 149,837

Company: Texaco
Market Cap: $86 Billion
Employees: 56,045

Company: DuPont
Market Cap: $79 Billion
Employees: 100,713

Company: Sears
Market Cap: $70 Billion
Employees: 250,000

Company: GE
Market Cap: $61 Billion
Employees: 262,056

Company: Gulf Oil
Market Cap: $61 Billion
Employees: 58,000

Company: Kodak
Market Cap: $40 Billion
Employees: 81,500


2011 (3)
Company: Exxon Mobil
Market Cap: $412 Billion
Employees: 83,600

Company: Berkshire Hathaway (4)
Market Cap: $405 Billion
Employees: 260,000

Company: Apple
Market Cap: $306 Billion
Employees: 49,400

Company: Microsoft
Market Cap: $215 Billion
Employees: 93,000

Company: GE
Market Cap: $212 Billion
Employees: 287,000

Company: Chevron
Market Cap: $209 Billion
Employees: 58,267

Company: IBM
Market Cap: $199 Billion
Employees: 426,751

Company: Walmart (5)
Market Cap: $187 Billion
Employees: 2,100,000

Company: JPMorgan Chase
Market Cap: $186 Billion
Employees: 239,831

Company: Google
Market Cap: $183 Billion
Employees: 24,400


(1) AT&T needed hundreds of thousands of people to help information flow across great distances; Google now does the same job with one-tenth of the workers.

(2) Today, GM is not even one of the top 50 most valuable companies in America. (It’s number 65.)

(3) The respective figures for 2011 and 1964 are even more striking considering that today’s U.S. workforce is twice as large as 1964’s and a third of U.S.-based corporations’ employees are overseas.

(4) That’s the total for companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway; only 21 people work at the firm’s offices.

(5) Walmart employs a lot of workers, but with an average hourly wage of $11.75, annual pay for many of them is only about $24,000 a year. N.B.: 1964 market caps stated in 2011 dollars. 1964 Gulf Oil employment figure was not available; the number above is the company’s 1967 statistic.

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