A World at Work

The state of the world economy, and particularly that of employment, dominates not only the business section of the news, but the front pages of probably every national and small town paper.

Last week, The Economist published a special report on The Future of Jobs. There were three or four numbers that caught my eye because I had never seen these figures published before, and they put the world of work into a global perspective.

The World’s Biggest Employers

According to The Economist, here are the world’s largest employers:

  1. U.S. Department of Defense: 3.2 million
  2. Chinese Army: 2.3 million
  3. Wal-Mart: 2.1 million
  4. McDonald’s 1.7 million
  5. China National Petroleum Corporation: 1.7 million
  6. State Grid of China: 1.6 million
  7. National Health Service (England): 1.4 million
  8. Indian Railways: 1.4 million
  9. China Post: 900,000
  10. Hon Hai Precision Industry: 900,000

To put this in some perspective, the largest employers in Canada based on information from The Globe and Mail (June 23, 2011) are the following:

  1. Onex Corp: 238,000
  2. George Weston Ltd: 155,000
  3. Magna International: 96,600
  4. Empire Company: 90,000
  5. Royal Bank of Canada: 72,000
  6. Bank of Nova Scotia: 71,000
  7. TD Bank: 69,000
  8. Bombardier: 66,000
  9. Metro: 65,000
  10. Canadian Tire: 57,000
  11. Thomson Reuters: 55,000

Note: Canada’s largest employer, Onex, would not make the global top 50 private sector employers according to the Global 500 in Fortune magazine.

Another way to put these numbers into perspective: Hon Hai Precision Industry, a manufacturer of electronic components for Apple, Dell, Sony, Cisco etc. with sales of about $61 billion, has 900,000+ employees (they are adding several thousand each month). That would make them the fourth largest city in Canada, behind only the City of Toronto (2,500,000), Montreal (1,600,000) and Calgary (988,000). My forecast is that barring the effects of a recession, Hon Hai will break the 1,000,000 employee-level sometime in 2012.

The Number of People Employed in the World

 The second fascinating statistic: the number of people employed in the world, according to The Economist, is 3.1 billion in 2011, up from 2.3 billion in 1991.

The Percentage of Self-Employed

The third set of numbers that puts the world of work into context:

40% of those employed in the world are full-time with some kind of company or government

31% are employed full-time and self-employed

12% are part-time employed but want full-time employment

10% are employed part-time and do not want full-time employment

7% are unemployed

What is interesting is the size of the full-time, self-employed segment, a segment I believe will grow in absolute size. I also think that this segment will contain a growing number of high-paying, high-skill jobs.

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