Apple has quantified its effect on the US economy in a new study. It shows how many American jobs can be credited to the sale of Apple’s 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.
The company claims that it had “created or supported” 514,000 American jobs. The study is an way to show that Apple’s benefit to the American job market goes far beyond the 47,000 people it directly employs here, The New York Times writes.
“The vast majority of our customer support calls are handled by US employees,” Apple said on their website.
“Relocating our call centers overseas to places like India would reduce our costs by 50 percent or more. But we keep these jobs in the US because it helps us deliver a better customer experience.”
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 United States has been discussed among economists for years.
“Apple has a big effect, and big is about as precise as I can make it,” explained 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 that the “entire business of claiming ‘direct and indirect’ job creation is disreputable” as 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,” Mr. Autor added. “We’ll never know.”
Mr. Autor also said that Apple should not be held accountable for employment problems in the United States.
“Generating the conditions that give rise to high rates of employment and wage growth is the domain of policy makers, not individual companies,” he said.
Some companies, for example Microsoft, have provided similar research trying to tally up such indirect employment, by suppliers and other partners. The use of “job multipliers” has become common practice, sometimes by businesses lobbying for tax breaks from local and state governments.
However, the calculations of such multipliers are often debated both in economic and political terms. For instance, the Congressional Budget Office, which calculated the impact of the 2009 federal stimulus on jobs, has set estimates that vary between as few as 1.6 million jobs and as many as 8.4 million jobs.
A consulting firm, Analysis Group, hired by Apple to calculate the number of jobs, claims that Apple spent on goods and services in the U.S. in 2011 and then using what are called Type 1 multipliers from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to determine the number of jobs.
But as researchers at the BEA note in a paper titled “Input-Output Models for Impact Analysis: Suggestions for Practitioners Using RIMS II Multipliers,” such models have assumptions, including that “an industry must double its inputs to double its output without substitution.”