Economists weigh in on Apple’s U.S. job creation claims

“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,” Nick Wingfield reports for The New York Times. “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 accuracy of the Apple jobs calculation in the United States 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,’” Wingfield reports. “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,’ Mr. Autor said. “We’ll never know.”

Wingfield reports, “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.”

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