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The 19 US states where the biggest private employer is Walmart

The US economy, in theory, is supported by a rich diversity of employers. But in much of the country, more people work for Walmart than at any other business.

In 19 states, Walmart is the biggest private-sector employer, and in many of them, there are more Walmart employers than state or military workers, according to research from Olivet Nazarene University and 24/7 Wall Street. They includes both sparsely populated states without major industries, like Wyoming, and some of the biggest states, like Texas and Illinois.

State where Walmart is the largest employer Number of Walmart employees
Alabama 37,537
Arizona 33,838
Arkansas 51,680
Florida 104,228
Georgia 57,276
Illinois 51,900
Kentucky 29,005
Louisiana 36,763
Mississippi 24,741
Missouri 42,312
Montana 4,508
Ohio 46,611
Oklahoma 33,268
South Carolina 30,828
Tennessee 40,398
Texas 166,131
Virginia 42,915
West Virginia 12,454
Wyoming 4,647

It shouldn’t be terribly surprising, given Walmart’s gargantuan size. The company employs about 1.5 million Americans, or about 1% of the total private sector workforce in the US. With $482 billion in annual revenue, it sells more than Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft put together.

While Walmart has wobbled a bit in recent years— last year it said it would close 269 stores— it’s well positioned to remain one of the US’s biggest companies for years to come. It’s not clear, however, if it needs to remain its biggest employer.

As automation becomes more sophisticated, an increasing number of jobs will be whittled away. Last year, the company announced it was eliminating about 7,000 back office positions from its stores, with the functions either centralized or performed by computers.

Walmart has also made significant inroads into e-commerce, purchasing Jet.com and ShoeBuy.com, signaling an understanding that many future shoppers won’t be visiting its stores. It’s also experimenting with delivery by drones, and while widespread adoption is years away (if ever), it, too would reduce the number of employees.

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