Given all the recent rhetoric about the vast size of the U.S. government and the struggle over how to balance its bloated budget, here is a fact to ponder:
Employees of just three large American companies - Kraft General Foods Inc., General Motors Corp. and Kelly Services Inc. - together outnumber those of the federal government.
Nevertheless, many critics complain about the size of the government work force. Yet, that number peaked during World War II at slightly more than 2.5 million, with a secondary peak at 2.2 million in 1980.
Last month, the number of federal employees was down to 1.94 million, the lowest level in more than 19 years. In the past 12 months alone, federal payrolls fell by 117,000 jobs, a 4.5 percent drop.