That’s the headline Fortune Magazine used to describe its annual ranking of the nation’s 500 largest corporations. It certainly didn’t apply to the average American.
While unemployment remained stubbornly high, the incomes of the middle class who were lucky enough to be employed stagnated and income inequality reached ever higher levels. The Fortune 500 generated a total of $824.5 billion in earnings last year, up 16.4% over 2010. These profits represent 7% of total sales, vs. an average of 5.14% over the 58-year history of the Fortune 500.
Even when the economy began to expand in late 2009, these companies were reluctant to hire more workers, who account for almost 70% of their total costs. As Fortune noted, “Today the Fortune 500 employs 25.8 million people worldwide, up by less than 1% since 2007.”What explains these incredible numbers? Brutal layoffs, reduced operating costs, productivity gains and globalization.