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A Detailed Look at Apples's Global iPod Economy

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Apple's iPod chain of production includes 27,000 U.S. workers, but nearly double that outside the United States. Are the benefits of globalization and lower consumer prices outweighed by job losses and lower earnings for U.S. workers? A detailed paper by professors Greg Linden, University of California, Berkeley Jason Dedrick, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University and
Kenneth L. Kraemer, University of California, Irvine, break down Apple's chain of production to paint a fascinating and detailed picture of the iPod economy and how the global value chain can benefit both the company and U.S. workers.

The chart below shows the estimated iPod-related jobs at Apple, circa 2006

And here are the iPod-related jobs broken down by country.

And average wage estimates of those iPod-related jobs

Finally, iPod-related wages broken down by country and category.

Among the paper's conclusions:
  • The relationship between innovation by U.S. companies and employment in the United States is more complex than phrases such as the “vanishing middle class” suggest.
  •  When innovative products are designed and marketed by U.S. companies, they can create valuable jobs for American
    workers even if the products are manufactured offshore.
  • Apple’s tremendous success with the iPod and other innovative products in recent years has driven growth in U.S. employment, even though these products are made offshore.
  • It is more important than ever that all children receive an education that prepares them for 21st-century jobs. 
  • Professional jobs are at risk on multiple fronts.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.