Commentary

Apple Creating $1 Billion Fund For U.S. Jobs

Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged yesterday to put aside $1 billion in a fund that will promote the creation of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

“We're announcing it today. So you're the first person I'm telling,” Cook told CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’ host Jim Cramer during a wide-ranging, 24-minute interview. “Well, not the first person because we've talked to a company that we're going to invest in already,” he said.

He added that Apple will announce that first investment later this month, reports CNBC’s Elizabeth Gurdus.

“By doing that, we can be the ripple in the pond. Because if we can create many manufacturing jobs around, those manufacturing jobs create more jobs around them because you have a service industry that builds up around them,” Cook continued. 

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“A lot of people ask me, ‘Do you think it’s a company's job to create jobs?’ and my response is [that] a company should have values because a company is a collection of people. And people should have values, so by extension, a company should. And one of the things you do is give back,” he said.

The fund “may be seen as part of a strategy to help it get on the right side of the Trump administration, giving it more power to call for concessions to help its business operations. Issues currently of concern to Apple and other corporations include, for example, the government’s recent decision to suspend the expedited processing of H-1B visas that allow for the speedy recruitment of highly skilled  workers from overseas, while the Trump administration could also offer more favorable conditions to encourage U.S. firms to bring home large amounts of revenue currently held by foreign banks. Of Apple’s $256.8 billion cash pile, 93% is held overseas,” points out Trevor Mogg for Digital Trends.

Not that Apple doesn’t already keep a lot of American workers in iPhones and AirPods.

“Cramer asked Cook straight up, ‘You’re a huge company. What are you doing to create jobs?’ recounts Susie Ochs for MacWorld.

“Cook responded that Apple had created 2 million jobs in the U.S., a stat he’d also mentioned in Tuesday’s Q2 earnings call. But this time he broke it down, and naturally those workers aren’t all wearing Apple logos on their shirts. Still, a lot of them are: Cook spoke of 25,000 employees doing R&D; 6,000 at Apple’s facility in Austin, Texas; plus all the employees at Apple’s retail stores. That’s nowhere near 2 million, but Cook also counts U.S. suppliers who make components here, like Corning glass and 3M adhesives used in iPhones and iPads.”

Apple is, of course, joining the crowd in making a big deal out of adding domestic jobs. India-based Infosys was the latest to announce that it would hire U.S. workers, holding an event in Indiana Tuesday to promise adding 10,000 American workers to its payroll over the next two years, as Aimee Picchi reports for CBS Money Watch.

“Mr. Cook did not address whether the fund was influenced by Mr. Trump’s policies and statements on manufacturing,” Katie Benner and Nelson D. Schwartz report for the New York Times. “Asked by Mr. Cramer about working with the president, Mr. Cook said there were always issues to agree on and disagree on with any administration in any country. But ‘you look to find common ground and try to influence the things you don’t,’ he said.”

One of those areas of agreement, unsurprisingly, is the administration’s corporate tax proposal.

“If you earn money globally, you don't — you can't bring it back into the United States unless you pay 35% plus your state tax,” Cook told Cramer. “And you look at this and you go, ‘This is kind of bizarre,’” Max Greenwood reports for The Hill. “I think the administration — you saw that they're really getting this, and want to bring this back,” he continued. “And I hope that that comes to pass.”

The $1 billion investment in U.S. jobs will hardly put a dent in Apple’s cash cache, which is now in the $250 billion range and, says the AP’s Michael Liedtke in Inc., “has people wondering if the company will buy Disney.” Or Netflix. Or Tesla Motors. 

Heck, why not The Trump Organization?

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