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Apple, Job Creator

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One of the key terms this primary season, aside from Super PAC, has been “job creators,” a pretty self-explanatory expression describing people who, well, create jobs (or claim to). Along with thousands of talking points for Mitt Romney and around the same number of attacks on President Obama, the phrase has also spawned the “Job Creators Alliance.”

Made up of the founders of Staples (SPLS), Home Depot (HD) and some other large companies, the group recently sent Staples co-founder Tom Sternberg and a few others to Washington to lobby for lower taxes. They met with the Senate Republican Policy Committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Well, apparently, another company is trying to get in on the job creation game. Last Friday, Apple (AAPL) released a study claiming that the company has “created or supported” over half a million jobs in this country. Currently, it only employs 47,000 people in the US.

Apple’s numbers include 257,000 jobs at other companies including development and manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical services, transportation, and healthcare, among others. They also claim that the “iOS app economy” has created 210,000 jobs.

Of course, not everyone agrees with these numbers. According to the New York Times, Apple’s data “will be debated by economists for years.” One MIT professor quoted even went as far as to say 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.”

Apple hasn’t given a reason for the release of the study. That said, it has taken a lot of flak for its employment practices lately.

The company has created, through its suppliers, around 700,000 jobs overseas. However, at least some of these jobs have come under recent scrutiny thanks to reporting of employment practices by Apple affiliates like Foxconn.

Beyond that, the Times points out that Apple -- now the US’s most valuable company -- has come under scrutiny for employing relatively few people compared to companies like General Motors (GM) and General Electric at their peak.

Regardless, Apple has been itching for some positive stories on its employment practices for a while and it looks like they finally got one (even if they had to create it themselves). Meanwhile, Microsoft (MSFT) has announced plans for a similar study. 
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.