Apple Inc's employment creation data spurs an economic debate
Apple has made its first attempt to quantify how many American jobs can be credited to the sale of its iPads and other products, a group that includes the Apple engineers who design the devices and the drivers who deliver them — even the people who build the trucks that get them there.
On Friday, the company published the results of a study it commissioned saying that it had "created or supported" 514,000 American jobs. The study is an effort to show that Apple's benefit to the American job market goes far beyond the 47,000 people it directly employs here.
The company's employment practices have come under closer examination. Apple and other high-tech companies, including Internet companies, employ relatively few people compared with other stalwarts of American business, like General Motors and General Electric in their heyday.
Apple, which is now the world's most valuable company, has created more jobs overseas, approximately 700,000 through a network of suppliers that make iPhones, iPads and other products.
The accuracy of the Apple jobs calculation in the US may well be debated among economists for years. "Apple has a big effect, and big is about as precise as I can make it," said Gary P Pisano, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. "It's hard to say the exact size."
David Autor, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said via e-mail that the "entire business of claiming 'direct and indirect' job creation is disreputable" because most of the workers Apple is taking credit for would have been employed elsewhere in the company's absence.
"But of course, they might not have been as well paid or gratified with their work," Autor said. "We'll never know."