From the food we put on the table to the careers we pursue, business affects nearly every component of our daily lives. Businesses are behind our entertainment and favorite sports teams, home furnishings and means of travel, and everything in between. But while they can create products to help us heal and stay connected to those we love most, businesses can also put consumers at risk because of faulty products, pollution, or inadequate employee benefits.
Over the past century, we’ve seen many businesses expand to levels that once seemed unimaginable. Walmart grew in a matter of decades from an Arkansas retailer to employing more people than any other company in the world, and a Toyota became the best-selling car of all time. Amazon was founded in 1995 as an online bookseller, and today its founder is the world’s wealthiest man.
The world communicates quickly and widely because businesses create faster and more extensive systems to keep us connected. Hundreds of billions of emails are sent every day, and over 4 billion people use the internet. All that communication and technology can threaten to consume us. Employees check their work emails from the breakfast table and even from bed—and most email users never can clear out their inboxes.
Businesses can treat workers and the public badly. Profitable companies pay top executives far more than they pay average workers, put employees at risk with intolerable working conditions, and cause workers stress and unhappiness with uncertainty and declining pay. They help trigger a financial collapse, spoil the environment, or simply pay women less than men. But they can create millions of new jobs each year or exist to chase an ideal rather than a profit.
And they are capable of jaw-dropping extravagance, producing cars that cost more than an ocean-faring yacht, selling a half-minute of television ad time for more than the value of most people’s homes, and building towering indoor ski resorts.
Stacker looked at international and domestic businesses, communications, entertainment, e-commerce, salaries, labor unions, industry studies, and government reports to find the most staggering and most intriguing business statistics of the year. Keep reading to learn about the world’s biggest polluter, the worst job in the United States, and what percentage of people have no retirement savings.
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Ranked based on pay, stress levels, future prospects, and work-life balance, being a software developer is currently the best job to have, according to a survey by U.S. News & World Report. In second place came statistician, followed by physician’s assistant and dentist.
Apple is the biggest company in the world, with a market value of $961 billion. In second place is Microsoft, with a market value of $946 billion, and in third place is Amazon, at $916 billion.
Almost 31 million small businesses, generally defined as those with fewer than 500 employees, operate in the United States. They comprise 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and employ almost 60 million people—over 47% of the nation’s workers.
In the United States, small businesses created 9.6 million net new jobs from 2000 to 2018—nearly two-thirds of the nation’s net new job creation. During the same period, large businesses created 5.2 million jobs.
More than four out of five small businesses in the United States—about 25 million—have no employees. Known as nonemployers, these include such positions as independent contractors and real estate agents.
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On the whole, employees checked on their work emails an average of 209 minutes a day, down from 256 minutes in 2016, a recent survey found. A quarter of people said they checked their work emails while they were still at home, getting ready for work, or having breakfast, and found 13% checked their work emails while still in bed.
The holiday shopping season for 2019, defined as starting on the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, and ending on Christmas Day, is the shortest season possible at 26 days. This is six days shorter than the shopping season of 2018. The shorter season may mean retailers offer discounts and sales prices earlier in the season so deliveries arrive on time.
A study of S&P 500 companies found four out of five firms paid their chief executives over 100 times the median paid to their workers. At one in 10 of those companies, the median pay for workers was below the federal poverty level—$27,005, according to the U.S. government—while the median chief executive pay was $12.3 million.
A study by the Adobe software company found that 46% of email users reach what is called ‘Inbox Zero,’ when every email has been acted upon—answered, deleted, or delegated. Millennials were most likely to clear their inboxes, and baby boomers least likely.
In the United States, about half of small businesses survive at least five years. Of those that launched in 2017, four out of five lasted to the following year, according to the most recent government statistics.
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A recent study of office workers found they spent only 43% of their time on primary job responsibilities and that they were interrupted an average of 14 times a day. The study looked at 3,750 office workers in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States at companies with at least 500 employees who worked at a computer and collaborated with other employees.
Employing the most people in the world is Walmart, which in fiscal year 2018 had about 2.2 million workers. Walmart has nearly 4,800 stores in the United States. The first Walmart opened in Arkansas in 1962, and the retailer had stores in every state as of 1995, when it opened its first locations in Vermont.
The best-selling vehicle worldwide in 2019 was the Toyota Corolla, which has earned the title as the best-selling car of all time. It was introduced in 1966. In second place was the Ford F-Series of pickup trucks, followed by the Toyota RAV4 that beat out the Honda Civic.
Being a parking lot attendant is the worst job in the United States, according to data from PayScale and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rating was based on pay and benefits, work environment, public and personal perceptions of the work, work-life balance, and interpersonal relationships with colleagues. Other jobs on the “worst” list include dishwashers, cafeteria attendants, and dry-cleaning workers.
The most expensive car ever introduced is the Bugatti La Voiture Noire, which made its debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Its asking price was $12.5 million, and Bugatti said it sold for $18.7 million. Bugatti also said the car was not finished and would take 2.5 years to be delivered.
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One out of every five U.S. workers has no retirement savings, according to a study by the Northwestern Mutual insurance company. Among baby boomers—those at or near retirement age, one in three has less than $25,000 put away for retirement. At 38%, more American workers say they expect to work until age 70 or beyond than the 33% who say they expect to retire between the ages of 65 and 69.
Building a car requires multiple phases: stamping, welding, painting, assembly, and inspections. Henry Ford was responsible for the first-ever moving assembly line, which brought that part of the car-manufacturing process down from 12 hours to 90 minutes. Today, it can take up to 800 hours to build a Rolls-Royce from start to finish, but the average car takes just a fraction of that. Toyota takes 17 to 18 hours to produce an average car which contains roughly 30,000 parts.
The most dangerous jobs in the United States are in the commercial fishing industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census Of Fatal Occupational Injuries annual report. The work involves exposure to extreme weather and slippery decks and injured workers may be far from medical care when an accident occurs. Most deaths are from drowning, and the fatality rate in the industry was 100 per 100,000 workers.
About 77 million automobiles are predicted to be sold internationally by the end of this year, down over 3 million in what would be the worst car sales slump since the Great Recession. In the United States, sales aren’t expected to exceed 16.9 million in 2019.
The minimum wage was designed to provide a living wage that could cover basic expenses such as food and shelter. The first federal minimum wage in the United States was set in 1938 at 25 cents an hour (about $4.53 today). Since then, the minimum wage has been raised 22 times, most recently in 2009. Today the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Analyst David Cooper from the Economic Policy Group found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lower government expenses for income-supported programs by more than $7.6 billion.
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Agricultural jobs are falling significantly around the world. The most recent statistics show agriculture comprised 28% of world employment; in 1991 it stood at 44%. But in low-income countries, 63% of workers are still in agriculture, down eight percentage points over the same time period.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. Five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee—do not have a minimum wage of their own. New Jersey and Maryland are raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, Illinois by 2025, and California for some workers by 2022 and others by 2023.
Some 172 million people were unemployed in 2018 around the world, according to the most recent data available. That translates to a global unemployment rate of 5%. The unemployment rate is expected to remain steady this year and next, although in actual numbers it is expected to rise to 174 million people next year because of growth in the size of the labor force.
In the United States, Hawaii has the highest rate of labor union membership, at over 23%. In second place is New York, where more than 22% of workers are unionized. The lowest rates of unionization are in North Carolina and South Carolina, both at 2.7%.
About one in 10 U.S. workers belonged to a labor union, or about 14.7 million workers, as of 2018. By comparison, in 1983, the first year for which there is comparable data, 17.7 million U.S. workers belonged to a union, or one in five.
One in five companies in the United States is family owned. Typically, the fields with the most family owned firms are company management, real estate, accommodations, and food services.
The most expensive 30-second spot on U.S. broadcast television this year was on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” That spot costs on average more than $685,000. The second-most-expensive spot was on Fox Television’s “Thursday Night Football,” at more than $540,000 for 30 seconds.
Globally, 48% of women participate in the paid labor force. That compares with 75% of men.
Instead of taking a cue from thousands of companies around the world moving toward more sustainable practices, Procter & Gamble (purveyors of Charmin), Kimberly-Clark (Cottonelle and Scott), and Georgia-Pacific (Angel Soft, Quilted Northern) are still deriving toilet tissue from Canada’s boreal forest, an old-growth forest home to 600 indigenous communities and millions of species, including the boreal caribou. The country’s forest loses over 1 million acres of trees annually. Meanwhile, the U.S. tissue market brings in $31 billion in revenue. As other toilet tissue manufacturers increasingly use recycled products to create biodegradable toilet tissue, the aforementioned brands have not done likewise.
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Around the world, women are paid about 20% less than men. The gender pay gap is widest at the high end of the pay scale in high-income countries, and it is widest among lower-paid workers in low- and middle-income countries, according to the International Labour Organization.
The most lucrative airline route in the United States is United’s flight between San Francisco International Airport and Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. The cross-country stretch generated $689 million in revenue last year for United Airlines.
The most lucrative international airline route runs between New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Heathrow Airport in London. It reaps annual revenues of $1.16 billion for British Airways. About a third of the seats are first class or business class. The revenue per hour of flight time is more than $27,000.
China has the most internet users, at 854 million, followed by India and then the United States. Rounding out the top five countries are Indonesia and Brazil. Worldwide, the number of internet users is estimated at more than 4.5 billion.
Each day, over 293 billion emails are sent around the world, according to estimates. That figure is expected to top 347 billion by 2023.
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The four biggest banks in the world are based in China, led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The next five biggest banks are American, with JP Morgan Chase in fifth place, followed by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and HSBC. Placing 10th was Japan’s Mitsubishi UFC.
The biggest company to file for bankruptcy protection so far this year in the United States is California’s PG&E Corp. The energy giant, with $71.4 billion in assets, cited in its January filing its liabilities from the state’s 2017 and 2018 wildfires. It is the largest bankruptcy of a utility in the nation’s history.
The biggest-selling table wine brand in the United States is Barefoot, owned by the E. & J. Gallo Winery. It had more than $668 million in sales in 2019. In second place was Sutter Home, with 2019 sales of about $388 million.
The largest corporate fine in history was levied against BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the British company to pay $20.8 billion. The second-biggest fine was $16.65 billion levied against Bank of America in 2014 for the role it played in the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis, and third-biggest was a fine of $13 billion against JP Morgan for its role in the financial crisis.
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California makes so much wine that if it were a country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest producer after the top three—France, Italy, and Spain. California produces almost 600 million gallons of wine a year.
At about $300,000 a share, Berkshire Hathaway is the most expensive stock in the world. The company is headed by billionaire Warren Buffett, who built the textile manufacturing company into a multinational conglomerate after acquiring it in 1965. Among its companies and subsidiaries are GEICO Insurance, Duracell, BNSF Railway, and Benjamin Moore & Co.
Globally, about 1.6 billion people regularly use WhatsApp for instant messaging. The most widely used of the instant messaging systems, it’s particularly popular outside the United States.
Running neck and neck with Bill Gates, Amazon head Jeff Bezos has reigned as the richest person in the world for the past two years. The founder of the online retailing giant was worth $131 billion, up $19 billion from a year earlier, according to Forbes. Even after his much-publicized divorce settlement in which his now ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos was awarded more than $38 billion in Amazon stock, Bezos is expected to keep his title as the wealthiest person in the world.
Businesses with women owning, operating, or controlling at least 51% of the company grew from 402,000 in 1972 to 12.3 million in 2018. Today, 1.1 million businesses with employees in the United States are owned by women. That’s one in five. In recent years, the number of women-owned companies has grown at about twice the pace of companies owned by men.
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The number of billionaires around the world dropped by 55 this year from last year to 2,153, according to Forbes’ annual list. Nearly half had less money than they did the year before, down $400 billion overall, and 247 people dropped off the list altogether. Meanwhile, the United States has more billionaires than ever—607—14 of whom rate among the world’s 20 richest people.
About one in 10 businesses in the United States is a nonprofit, meaning the businesses exist to promote a cause rather than earnings. They are concentrated in health, education, and the arts. The average pay of a nonprofit employee was $53,700 in 2017, compared with $55,500 at a for-profit, and in more than half the states, the average pay at nonprofits was higher.
Canada’s Triple Five Group, owners of Mall of America, the biggest shopping mall in the United States, just opened shopping giant American Dream, in New Jersey. Along with over 450 stores, the 3-million-square-foot complex eventually will house a theme park, rollercoaster, aquarium, NHL regulation-size ice rink, a water park, and an indoor ski and snowboard park 16 stories high. So-called “experiential tenants”—businesses offering experiences over physical products—are seen as popular draws for customers and now occupy a fifth of the shopping center space in the United States.
Slightly more than 1 million businesses opened in 2018, while 888,000 closed—a net increase of 115,000. Openings have outpaced closings for the past eight years, according to the federal government’s Small Business Administration.
A global study of plastic waste found that Coca-Cola was the biggest polluter for the second year in a row. The group Break Free From Plastic used almost 73,000 volunteers over two months in 51 countries who picked up more than 476,000 pieces of plastic waste, nearly half of which had an identifiable consumer brand. They found almost 12,000 pieces of Coca-Cola plastics in 37 countries. Nestlé placed a distant second with more than 4,800 pieces in 31 countries, followed by Pepsi with over 3,300 in 28 countries.
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