Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) has attracted a lot of mostly negative attention recently over the labor practices of its manufacturing partners overseas, who, as a New York Times analysis published in January noted, collectively employ about 700,000 people to engineer, build, and assemble its products.
But Apple, which last week launched the latest iteration of its iPad tablet, does have a sizeable employee base — about 43,000 people in the U.S. and another 20,000 overseas. And that employee base in the U.S. is expected to grow by about 3,600 people over the next decade at a $304 million facility the company is building in Austin, Texas.
The state, through an initiative called the Texas Enterprise Fund, has offered Apple $21 million in incentives to expand its presence in Austin and make the new hires, who will focus on customer support, sales, and accounting services, an Associated Press report explains.
A spokesman for Apple, whose market cap has topped $500 billion, noted that the company employed fewer than 1,000 people in Austin in 2004 and now employs more than 3,500. Apple tried to enhance its image as a jobs creator in an analysis released last week that claimed the company created or supported 514,000 American jobs — a claim that has been cited by some observers as cynical and misleading.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is one of two funds intended to attract technology companies to the state. The incentive offered to Apple, though, is among the largest, as is the company’s commitment to expanding its workforce.
So far, the fund has invested more than $443.4 million and signed contracts to generate 62,000 new jobs and more than $15.4 billion in capital investment, the AP notes, adding that participating companies created 22,349 jobs by the end of 2010, or roughly 37% of the 59,100 job-creation goal that the program was designed to generate by the summer of 2010.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, under fire from Tea Party activists who say the program amounts to “crony capitalism,” said the true measure of the program’s success will not be based on year-by-year results but will be cumulative, since deals between the state and participating companies are often renegotiated.