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Apple says it has created half a million US jobs

By John Boudreau, San Jose Mercury News –

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple, which relies on Asian contractors to manufacture its iPhones and iPads, said in a report released Friday that it has directly or indirectly created 514,000 jobs in the United States though its gadget ecosystem.

The company, which used data crunched from economists at the Analysis Group, placed the job creation in two categories. The first comprised 304,000 jobs, including software engineers working at the Cupertino company’s campus, workers in Texas who manufacture processors for Apple devices, Corning employees in Kentucky and New York who make glass for the iPhone and United Parcel Services and FedEx workers who deliver its products to customers.

The second category comprised 210,000 independent application-development jobs that exist as a result of the company’s iPhone and iPad devices. Separately, the company said it has generated more than $4 billion in business for developers who make apps for its iPhone and iPad devices.

“Throughout our history, Apple has created entirely new products — and entirely new industries — by focusing on innovation,” Apple said on its website. “As a result, we’ve created or supported more than 500,000 jobs for U.S. workers: from the engineer who helped invent the iPad to the delivery person who brings it to your door.”

The report follows criticism of working conditions for Chinese employees of Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles products for Apple and other major electronics companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

In a January report about its supply-chain partners in Asia, Apple said it found examples of contractors employing children and forcing employees to work exceedingly long hours. Apple hired the nonprofit Fair Labor Association to perform on-the-ground inspections of Foxconn, which employs more than 1 million workers in China. Foxconn has also come under pressure after a number of employee suicides in 2010 and a plant explosion that killed four employees last year.

Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at a Goldman Sachs technology conference, said, “Our commitment is simple: Every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination, where they can earn competitive wages and they can voice their concerns freely. Apple’s suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple.”

Greg Linden, a researcher at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, questioned the legitimacy of Apple taking credit for some jobs, such as those of UPS and FedEx employees who deliver the company’s products. “Those jobs are questionable to the extent they’d exist whether or not Apple existed,” he said.

However, Linden added, Apple has every right to take credit for other jobs indirectly tied to its success.

“The app phenomenon is real,” he said. “Those are good, solid jobs, and they deserve all the credit for them. They jump-started the whole app ecosystem.”

Apple, whose market capitalization surpassed $500 billion on Wednesday, said the number of its employees based in the United States has more than quadrupled in the past decade, from less than 10,000 in 2002 to more than 47,000 today.

A study by Linden and other researchers found that the creation, production and selling of Apple’s iPod in 2006 created 41,000 jobs worldwide and an estimated more than $1 billion-plus in wages. Though only 14,000 of those jobs were in the United States, American workers garnered $750 million in wages, more than double what overseas workers earned.

“Apple has turned out to be a major money-making machine, especially for those who have skills in intellectual property,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, said the report reflects a new era at the company following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs last fall.

“Steve Jobs was clear: He wasn’t going to help people in the liberal way, through charitable donations or being a kind person,” Kay said. “He was going to help people by making great products they’d want to buy. You may be seeing some of the post-Steve Jobs ethos. They don’t have their mesmerizing leader who stuns everyone and makes them compliant. They have to communicate more. It’s important to get in front of this.”

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