Apple Brings 2,000 New Jobs to Arizona—Sort Of

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 6 2013 11:45 AM

Apple Brings 2,000 New Jobs to Arizona—Sort Of

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Sapphire: the stuff of Arizona's Apple-led economic recovery.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Matthew Yglesias is on vacation.

Apple is expected to create 2,000 jobs in America in connection with a new factory it’s building in Arizona. The Guardian is reporting that the facility will produce “laboratory-grown sapphire crystals of the kind used in the iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner.” Sapphire, by the way, is more durable than glass.

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The project is part of a multiyear agreement with GT Advanced Technologies, which creates the sapphire material. A spokeswoman for the tech giant also said that the new plant “will run on 100 percent renewable energy from day one.Forbes says it will rely on “solar and geothermal power.”

This comes months after Apple also announced that it would be assembling Mac Pros in Texas. (And if you’re still hankering for some Apple fanboy material, this video should help.)

Apple’s forays into Arizona are good news for the state, though the reality might not be quite as fabulous as it sounds: Of the 2,000 jobs, 1,300 are tied to the construction of the facility. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer anticipates that the project will create “at least 700 quality jobs.” As for Texas, Mac Pro assembly—which was Apple’s first production pivot back to the United States since it left in 2004—is a pretty small gesture on its own: Mac Pros are very specialized (read: expensive) products, so it’s unlikely that demand will be high enough to give these new employees, say, overtime.

But displays for iPhones and iPads are a serious part of Apple’s production, both by quantity and revenue. Just ask Foxconn, the notorious Apple supplier that, according to CNN, has 1.2 million employees in China alone. These Apple homecomings in Arizona and Texas might look less like PR stunts when the number of jobs being “brought back to America” looks less like a rounding error.

Sean Vitka holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School. He was a legal fellow at the Open Technology Institute and a Google Policy Fellow at Georgetown Law.

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