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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.

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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

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.