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The five most valuable companies in the U.S. are all technology firms that employ far fewer workers than their industrial predecessors.

Expand chart
Data: Yahoo Finance, 2016 annual reports; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why this matters: These companies symbolize the central issue of employment in a new age of technology, automation and artificial intelligence. For example, Ford, worth a tenth of Facebook, employs 200,000 workers compared with Facebook's 17,000. Worse, Ford is cutting jobs, saying last month that it will lay off 1400 workers despite record revenues.

Accelerating economic change: The success of these tech giants highlights the changing face of corporate America -- three of them did not exist 25 years ago, and the other two are just 40. That such relatively young companies are on top illustrates the trend of a higher churn rate among American companies. According to consultancy Innosight, the 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1965 narrowed to 20 years in 1990 and is forecast to shrink to 14 years by 2026.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

CDC panel recommends Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A key panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people 65 years old and older, as well as those at high risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: The approval is the near-final step in making the booster shots available to tens of millions of Americans, and comes a day after the FDA approved Pfizer boosters for the two groups. CDC director Rochelle Walensky is expected to accept the recommendation.

DHS temporarily suspends use of horse patrol in Del Rio

U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio, Texas a DHS spokesperson confirmed.

Why it matters: The suspension comes after images showing border patrol agents whipping at and charging their horses at migrants surfaced earlier in the week, prompting widespread criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

Southwest drought is worst on record, NOAA finds

In a stark new report, a team of NOAA and independent researchers found the 2020-2021 drought across the Southwest is the worst in the instrumental record, which dates to 1895.

Why it matters: They also concluded that global warming is making it far more severe, primarily by increasing average temperatures, which boosts evaporation.