US Department of Defense Is World’s Biggest Employer


It looks like the never-ending Department of Defense gravy-train has paid off in some very tangible ways: The Economist just released an infographic showing that it is the world’s largest employer. Military Industrial Complex indeed: the DoD employs 3.2 million people, compared to 2.3 million people in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the next closest. In terms of context, that is 1% of the entire American population and over 2% of the labor force.

In spite of being the largest employer in the world, many within the organization and on the right say that the US military is still not big enough and repeatedly push for bigger funding outlays. Indeed, employment is not the only thing that’s exploded for the DoD in recent years, as the US has fought two wars that have cost upwards of $3 trillion.

One of the biggest problems with having so much employment tied to one expensive department is that cutting funding for the military might significantly increase the unemployment rate. The Associated Press reports that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has urged members of Congress to fight cuts to his department because they would likely increase national unemployment by 1%.

Unfortunately, this puts progressives in a bit of a bind. With the debt panel Super Committee getting into super-high-gear, they stand to look like they either support high unemployment or high war spending. Of course, they could always try something really revolutionary like using all of the billions wasted on private war contractors to shore up employment among laid-off teachers and public employees. But that might, you know… actually work.


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Photo credit: expertinfantry's Flickr stream.


Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

We are playing American Empire with Chinese money.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

The history of the American draft, the oldest people drafted were up to 45 in the Civil War (Union side) and World War II, respectively. Men up to age 65 were registered for the WW II draft.

Funny how the enlistment age has crept up. Before I turned 35, the enlistment age was up to 39. Then it was 42 before I was 39.... and so it goes

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Is it getting drafty or is it just me?

I am glad I am 43 in April. It means I can't join the military if I wanted to.

Christina B.
Christina B7 years ago

@Laurie D: "I work for the DoD and the Air Force. Don't you people think we NEED our military or did you actually enjoy watching the events of 9/11"

It seems to me that if the DoD did its job well, there would NOT be a 9/11... Unless, of course, it's THEM behind the whole tragedy. It makes sense, doesn't it?

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford7 years ago

Despite all the money spent, the US of Amnesia is a waning military power (in fact beaten by funny little men in pointed straw hats a few years ago). I guess the hawks in the Pentagon never got over Vietnam.
Another War of Independence is needed to free the US from corporatism and another Civil war perhaps to sort out the greedy bar stewards who populate the Republican Party. Don't think the US has enough time left for this. Haliburton and Blackwater should be investigated and passed through the very poor American judicial system.
Obummer is presiding over a failing state. World domination and PNAC now a mere dream, thank God (if I believed in one). AAA gone, laughed at by many, Nazirael a wayward and unruly child.
No doubt about it, the US is on the slide; the American military is not supreme. America's overbearing and arrogant dominance will come to an end, maybe sooner than might be supposed. By the end of this century the US may be no more than a loosely connected grouping of dirt farmers.

Walter G.
Walter G7 years ago

Biggest fraudster, waster and abuser also. They not only pas their budget by inflating prices of items they buy, they also stuff the military job descriptions with civil servants who cost, what with overtime and double for holidays, about 4 times the cost of military personnel who could do the same job and probably better. DOD is a huge 'black hole' soaking up money worse than does NASA. Case in point, back in the day of Iraq occupation an embarrassed Donald Rumsfeld responded to a soldier's question about sending decent Hum-v armor, since they were trying to save their own lives by scrounging out of trash dumps. Rumsfeld told the soldier not to worry about promotions or anything for bringing up the subject which in pentagon-speak means "you're finished!" Consider at the waste in the no contest contracts by none other than Haliburton under Bush-Chaney. I think the 'H word' is Chaney's middle name! the DOD has been reformed under almost every president and what has resulted? More skimming, cost over-runs, and bad products being swept under the rug.

James F.
James Foxvog7 years ago

I had thought China might be bigger in numbers, although it is much smaller in dollars. Spend that money on jobs that help people!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers7 years ago

Old soldiers never die. ..Only young ones.. By the thousands.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L7 years ago

That is a said commentary of the United States of America.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V7 years ago

Over the years my family has worn many uniforms for this country. Now I only one grandson of age to join and I hope I have talked him out of joining. I have sent him e-mails full of facts on how the men and women in uniform are NOT fighting for freedom but for profit. I send e-mails letting him know that once these brave people are in they are NOTHING to our government, NOTHING.

These A-holes are using OUR love ones for nothing but the almight dollar and profit. I think our men and women deserve better.