Apple made a remarkable announcement this week. It plans to spend $100 million in order to bring production of its Mac products back to the US. Regardless of your sentiment towards Apple and its products, more jobs in the US could be a very good thing for the local economy.
Consumer demand for locally-produced products is on a high right now after what has been the longest and deepest recession the United States has experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Employment numbers continue to fluctuate and growth is gradual at best. This is the reality of living in a modern world where business is largely conducted electronically and we sit between a high in consumerism and a low in innovation.
American publicly traded companies are all victims of the same basic principals. Shareholders demand profits for their investment. In order to drive profits, companies have to seek cost-efficient alternatives to traditional manufacturing efforts. In some cases this means replacing humans with robots. In others, it means hiring inexpensive labor from countries with a very different economy.
What many people don’t know is that Tim Cook’s initial role in Apple was to make manufacturing more efficient.
Tim Cook’s announcement was odd given the role he played in moving manufacturing out of Apple’s hands and into the hands of foreign plants in the first place. At the time Cook joined Apple, it was in a recovery period after stock had plummeted so low that many believed Apple to be doomed. Steve Jobs took the reigns back in 1997 and Tim Cook was one of the members of Jobs’ new core team.
Today, Apple is in a much different place. Profits are through the roof and the economy around the US is in a place where demand for domestic jobs is at an all-time high. It just makes good sense that Apple would decide to make an effort to meet the demands of its customers and concentrate on potentially bringing some of those jobs we lost during Apple’s renovation back to our shores.
Either way, Tim Cook’s background is in manufacturing and operational efficiency so it stands to reason that under his watch changes would be made. Bringing jobs to the US is a big deal for many consumers, and a lot of people hold out on buying Apple products because they’re not made here.
A long time ago, I worked in an Apple call center taking calls from customers and potential buyers with questions about ordering and shipping. Perhaps one of the most frequent complaints I received was from customers who were displeased to see that the iPod wasn’t made in the US. The response you’ll likely receive from Apple employees today reflects that Apple is a multinational corporation and it conducts business in a number of countries outside of the US.
Regardless of Apple’s wide range of decisions regarding patents and production, it’s hard not to argue that more jobs in the US. are a good thing for the United States economy. We need growth here in order to keep up with rising costs.
What is your take on today’s announcement? Do you believe Apple is headed in the right direction here, or are you skeptical about this new initiative?