What If the United States Was a Company?
If you’ve seen our shows on the mammoth corporations whose long arms extend into just about all corners of the planet, you’ll understand the sheer size of these businesses and why we sometimes compare them to countries in themselves. You’ll also know that many of these companies come from the USA. This includes tech giants such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google, but also the businesses lining the shelves of our kitchens and bathrooms such as PepsiCo and Johnson and Johnson. Between the burger behemoth McDonalds and retail giant Walmart, they employ about 4 million people worldwide. That’s roughly the population of Moldova or just less than half the population of Israel working at just two American companies.
First we should have a look at who is working in this company. It would consist of around 325,000,000 employees, 81 percent of whom would be city slickers. There would be slightly more female workers than male workers, and over the age of 85, there would be double the amount of women than men. About one quarter of our workforce would be under the age of 21, while the median age of our worker would be 37.8. Diversity is a huge issue these days, so we should have a look at the ethnicity of our workforce. We wouldn’t be very diverse at all actually, with around 76.9 percent of employees identifying as white. Many of them would tell you they have English, German, Irish, Scottish, Scotch-Irish and Welsh ancestors, along with many other European nations. Hispanic and Latino Americans would make up 17.8 percent of our workforce, and 13.3 percent of our employees would identity as black or African American. 6 percent of people would say they are Asian American, about 3.2 percent Middle Eastern American, and less than one percent would identify as Native American.
If America was a company, about 4.3 percent of adults that could work would not be working right now, if we look at present unemployment rates. This doesn’t really make any sense in view of this show, so let’s just say these folks are presently on sabbatical. Our company would be the richest in the world, with a total earnings of 18.57 trillion dollars, if we take net profits as the same as the GDP. Per person, that means $57,466.79. There would, however, be a huge inequality gap in our company. According to one Berkeley economist featured in The Atlantic in 2016, just one percent of our company would earn as much as 20 percent as the rest of our employees. In fact, some of our employees would be having a pretty hard time subsisting in the lower ranks of our complex company. The Census Bureau in 2017 did however report some good news and that was that the number of us living below the poverty line has decreased lately to just 12.7 percent or just over 40 million people. The employees hit the hardest would be black and Hispanic, while white and Asian employees would, on average, be doing the best. The Census Bureau explains that US poverty does not have to mean living in a tin shack and barbequing rats, but more not having sufficient money to live a stable and healthy life. It put that at a yearly income of $24,257 for a family of four. The worst off of us American employees on average would live in Alabama, where 19.2 percent of employees would live below the poverty line.
But how are we making money? First of all, to take care of everyone in our company and keep the infrastructure intact; to defend us from other large companies, we have to save money for our yearly budget. America the company would spend about 3.9 trillion dollars on that budget. Most of this we would get from Income tax, payroll tax, and a bit more from excise tax and corporate tax. This should insure most of us against hardships and make sure our country stays in one piece. We will actually overspend, so will have to borrow a bit of cash.
To accrue this massive amount of tax money we need industry. So what kind of things make cash for company America? Well, one good thing for us is that we are making a strong currency. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency, because we have the most stable company on the planet. Just having this powerful currency is a bonus in itself to our company. As one economist summed it up: “In short, U.S. firms get easier access to capital because of the dollar’s reserve status.” Sticking to making money out of working with money, the banks are a big industry in our company. CNN, one of our largest media organizations, reported in 2017 that banking profits were the highest in a long time at $171.3 billion, mainly because our company CEO, Donald Trump, relaxed regulations. Banks make money by lending money and charging our company employees interest and also lots of fees. NPR reports that that’s only half the profits, with investments making the rest of the money for banks. Finance and insurance in total makes up 8 percent of our GDP, at $1.159 trillion.
But banking and finance is only the 4th largest industry in our company economy. Our biggest business is real estate, which includes renting and leasing. This makes up 13 percent of our GDP, or $2.2 trillion. Next is professional and business services, which covers many of the businesses we deal with day to day. This is about 12 percent of our GDP or $2.098 trillion. In third place comes state and local government profits. This makes up 9.1 percent of our GDP or $1.5 trillion. We know the next is finance and banking, and the following five in order are: Health care and social assistance; Manufacturing of durable goods; Wholesale trade; Retail trade; Manufacturing of nondurable goods and in 10th place: Information. This includes publishing on all the platforms you can think of.
Even if these are the biggest industries, that doesn’t mean they are the most profitable. If you’ve seen our shows on businesses that break the records in bringing in the bucks, you’ll know that tech, or IT, is leading the way. In fact, it’s said Apple is well on its way to becoming the first company with a value of one trillion dollars. You won’t be surprised then to know that our IT services sector is the second most profitable business we have, but in first place it is the health and pharmaceutical industry. The companies with the highest net margins were generic pharmaceutical companies in first place, investment managing in second, tobacco in third and major pharmaceutical companies fourth. It seems that health is where we really know how to make the big money.
But where do we all work? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, things have certainly changed over the last hundred years, with not many of us now working in the mining industry as we used to do back in the day. It’s too complex to break down into actual jobs as there are literally thousands upon thousands of different jobs. But as of 2016 the biggest sectors in America the company are as follows: Education and services – in the first spot by a long shot. Second is the wholesale and retail trade; third is professional business services, fourth is manufacturing, fifth is leisure and hospitality; sixth is finance services; seventh is construction, eighth is just classed as ‘other services’; ninth as public admin, and IT is in tenth place.
So, who is our favorite country company to do business with? That would be the European Union, which we might call a conglomeration of entities as it contains lots of companies. The latest US government stats tell us that in total, trade between the EU and US was 1.1 trillion dollars. That was $276 billion in exports and $416 billion in imports. Our next biggest trading partner is China, although we import $462 billion from China and only export about a quarter of that amount. We have almost equal import and export amounts with the next two countries on our trading friends’ list, and they are Canada and Mexico.
Do we have much competition? Well, China has just been put ahead of us in terms of the world’s largest economy, although some experts disagree. Even so, most predict it will soon happen. Will China’s growing computer hardware industry ever catch to up ours? Will India’s IT services make bigger ripples in the pond? Can countries in Asia and Europe mount a challenge to the USA’s huge pharmaceutical industry? More importantly, when are us average workers going to get a pay-rise?! Let us know your thoughts in the comments!