09.05.10

America's Top 30 Job Creators

Enough with greedy bankers and hedge funders. As 15 million unemployed Americans search for jobs, The Daily Beast salutes the true entrepreneurs whose ideas and vision birthed great companies and jobs, jobs, jobs.

Enough with greedy bankers and hedge funders. As 15 million unemployed Americans search for jobs, The Daily Beast salutes the true entrepreneurs whose ideas and vision created great companies and jobs, jobs, jobs.

Organic-obsessed groceries: 43,000 jobs. Flying letters on private planes: 93,000 jobs. Flooding cities with $5 cups of coffee: 142,000 jobs.

The economy is sputtering along and Wall Street is rolling in money again. But with no relief in sight for the nation’s 15 million unemployed, job creation is set to dominate the headlines this fall. President Obama says he’ll offer “new ideas” this week, while many economists demand more government stimulus and tax credits.

Ultimately, it is entrepreneurs, not governments, who create jobs. To honor them, The Daily Beast has combed lists of the country’s largest public and private companies, based on full-time employees. From Fred Smith to Larry Ellison, we ranked the top 30 job creators in America. Our 30 are either living founders of existing companies, or executives directly responsible for the current iteration of a company. For example, Howard Schultz didn’t create the original Starbucks outpost, but he established the international chain as it exists today. (The list is based on total worldwide employees.)

Notably absent from the list are some of the celebrities of today’s business world. Nearly $250 billion in shareholder value has been injected into the U.S. economy thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos—the masterminds behind Facebook, Google, and Amazon.com. But the three companies employ fewer than 50,000 workers combined.

Gallery: America's Top 30 Job Creators

That fact highlights one of the toughest challenges facing the American economy: Some of our most high-flying companies are tech outfits that can’t begin to compensate for the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Even Apple, which recently be came the most highly valued public company in America in terms of market capitalization, employs only about a quarter as many people as, say, the Gap.

Some of the country’s vaunted CEOs did not make the list from a numbers standpoint, though their impact on the U.S. economy is massive: Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and founder of a business information empire, whose company employs 11,000. Ralph Lauren’s eponymous fashion empire employs 19,000. David Neeleman established the game-changing airline JetBlue, which provides work for 9,000 people. And Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon, who with her husband Vince turned a small wrestling company into a billion-dollar powerhouse with less than 1,000 workers.

Click here to see our rankings.