Market Overview

Apple Says It's Responsible for Half Million-Plus Jobs

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) says it is responsible for 514,000 US jobs. The stated number goes beyond the around 47,000 people that work directly for the company, to include anyone “from the engineer who helped invent the iPad to the delivery person who brings it to your door.”

It is the first time the company, who is notoriously mum on its own expanding weight, has taken the self-promoting step of quantifying its footprint on the United States economy. While Apple has declined to state the reasons for commissioning the study, The New York Times suggests recent scrutiny on the company's employment practices--specifically the outsize China concentration of Apple-related jobs--may have something to do with it. Also, the company may be feeling a certain moral obligation to justify its new status as the largest company in the world to its home country, whom it owes most of its success.

Apple furnished Analysis Group with the total amount it spent on goods and services in the US in 2011. Analysis Group then took that number and applied it to employment multipliers developed by the US. Bureau of Economic Analysis. This analysis concluded that Apple was directly or indirectly involved in creating 304,000 jobs, across all 50 US states. This number included, among others, employees of processor manufacturers in Texas, Gorilla glass-maker Corning (NYSE: GLW) employees in New York and Kentucky, as well as FedEx and UPS employees who deliver them.

The other 210,000 jobs in the headline of Apple's claim are derived from a 2012 study compiled by TechNet, which attributed 466,000 overall jobs in the US to the burgeoning app economy. Using the same methodology as this study's authors, Apple found that its own iPhone and iOS was responsible to 45 percent of all those job postings, indicating another 210,000 Apple-tied jobs.

Apple does not think its impact ends here. A footnote in the study points out that these jobs do not include an estimated 187,000 additional jobs that have resulted “from the increased spending of individuals and households whose income is directly or indirectly tied to Apple's economic activity.” Basically, Apple says the gainfully employed 514,000 it supports go out and consume goods and services which in turn support other jobs.

There are naysayers to these impressive numbers and the multipliers used to generate them. While there is no denying Apple's huge impact, there were sceptics who pointed that the flip side on Apple's brisk business. One example is Peter Cappelli of Wharton School of Business, who told The New York Times that $500 spent on an iPad would have most likely gone to some other product or service.

It must be noted that multipliers meet many skeptics whenever they are used to estimate the impact on employment, regardless whether the would-be job contributor was Apple, the US Government's economic stimuli, or most recently, the now-defunct proposal of an AT&T (NYSE: T) - T-Mobile merger. And when it comes to Apple rock-star status of late, any tidbit become fodder for analysts, pundits and bloggers alike. Come to think of it, those are jobs the company should chalk up to its tally.

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