Five points about Apple's job claims

Apple is claiming that it is a job creation powerhouse, responsible for some 514,000 direct and indirect jobs in the U.S. But there is a lot that isn't disclosed in Apple's report, and there are many questions about it.

Let's look at the data Apple provided and see what it tells us and what it isn't telling us.

One: Apple employs 47,000 people in the U.S. Of this number, 27,350 are U.S. retail employees, or about 58%. Apple also has 7,700 U.S.-based AppleCare Advisors or support personnel who account for 16.4% of its workforce. Together, retail and support personnel makeup about 75% of Apple's U.S. workforce. Retail and support jobs, while important, aren't vital to the future of the U.S. economy. If Apple wants to tell us something meaningful about its hiring, it needs to detail its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) hiring.

Two: Of the approximately 12,000 Apple U.S. employees who aren't involved in either retail or support, how many work in occupations critical to U.S. competitiveness? This includes STEM occupations. There is no question that Apple has many people with STEM skills in the U.S. It list 555 openings for hardware engineering positions, and 617 for software engineering jobs mostly all in the U.S. But of Apple's global workforce of 70,000, how many research and development jobs are located overseas today versus a few years ago? With so much of its manufacturing overseas, is Apple shifting any of its R&D overseas as well? This isn't discussed in Apple's report.

Three: Apple talks about creating 210,000 "iOS jobs" in the U.S. since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Apple claims it developed an "entirely new industry." Well, not really. It created a new platform, not a new industry. Developers have a long history of shifting to new platforms, but in Apple's case this has not resulted in an overall IT hiring boon. The IT workforce has just begun to pass 4 million, the number of people it had before the recession. Many iOS "jobs" aren't really full-time jobs with great benefits, but at best part-time endeavors that help people earn some extra income.

Four: In total, Apple says it has created 514,000 jobs either directly or indirectly. It throws in the kitchen sink to make this point, and even includes hiring by UPS as part of its job creation engine. Erik Sherman, writing for CBS Money Watch, points out that UPS saw a drop of 5% in its U.S. employment from 2009 to 2011. So, again, how did Apple help UPS?

Five: The one clear takeaway from Apple's report is its assertion that the "vast majority of our customer support calls are handled by U.S. employees." The company says that relocating its call centers to India "would reduce our costs by 50 percent or more. But we keep these jobs in the U.S. because it helps us deliver a better customer experience." There has been some push back in overseas call center use because of consumer complaints, but the broader trend still favors overseas use. Apple's position on overseas use of call centers is the only message of value in this report, something that may influence other companies to take a second look at their own plans.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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