Despite Huge Unemployment Rate, Apple’s $1 Billion Data Super Center Only Created 50 New Jobs

Despite Huge Unemployment Rate, Apple’s $1 Billion Data Super Center Only Created 50 New Jobs

It’s probably good that Apple is in the gadget creation business and not jobs. Turns out, the $1 billion data center the tech giant built down in North Carolina created just 50 full-time local jobs, working out to around $200,000 per spot. Although iCloud and other services likely to come from the site have plenty of tech fans, you won’t find too many “I Love Apple” bumper stickers in a town with double-digit unemployment.

The people of Maiden, NC, population 3,400, feel that the huge data center (which could power everything from iTunes, Siri and iCloud) has had little impact on their lives. The few who seem happy with the deal include the town manager, who sees big bucks from property taxes, and the couple who made $1.7M off selling Apple their one acre.

“Apple really doesn’t mean a thing to this town,” furniture maker Tony Parker told the Washington Post. An unemployed resident voiced pessimism about having Apple as a neighbor. “People around here don’t get those jobs,” he told the newspaper. “Those data jobs are not for us,” he added. The town could use more jobs – Maiden has a 13 percent unemployment rate, far higher than North Carolina’s statewide average of 10.5 percent.

However, Apple has a friend in Town Manager William “Todd” Herms. “I think the average citizen sees it affecting life,” he said. Herms called the Cupertino, California tech company “a great corporate neighbor.” But a neighbor without many local jobs — after all, how many small town North Carolina residents are trained to manage huge data centers, overseeing cutting edge cloud technology?

But there could be hope for Maiden. Apple is considering building a solar power farm for the datacenter. Perhaps even more promising is talk the company may double the size of the 500,000 square-foot site. If Apple wants to make friends with more than the local politicians, it needs to get its head out of the iCloud and create some iJobs.

  • FriarNurgle

    What about contacted jobs for lawn care and housekeeping? Let alone all the construction jobs. 

  • macgizmo

    What does the unemployment rate have to do with how many people it takes Apple to staff their data center?

    Should Apple hire 3,000 locals to sit on their thumbs all day (thereby increasing the cost to customers) simply to make the town’s unemployment rate look better?

  • Zac Hall

    How many cars are in that photograph?

  • MarioWario

    Creating 50 jobs in a nowhere land is more effective than bomb out the Iraq with $ 200,000.00 oneway rocket investments.

    If you are not an a..hole you go out of those countries and charge the investment bankers – the Bush’s & Clinton’s (who stole donation money from the Haitian people) & other d’bags – scrap all the money out of weird people’s pockets (…burton, goldmine) for a National Homeland Rebuild Program – it’s not Apple’s nor Amazon’s fault to be undertaxed.

    What’s really missing is a Job-Creating-Initiative by the government to finance the’Average Joe’. But who wants to invest in a country where everybody is scared – a control freak – an enemy to foreign people. No more stupid wars & more justice (WITHOUT A ‘PATRIOT ACT’). Patriot act sounds to me like inhouse-Gestapo & threaten other countries (Israel has got the bomb for decades – what does it matter ?).

    BTW you can charge stock exchange transactions with extra fees & you can reduce chinese imports – it’s a matter of ‘how corrupted is my political system’ (in Germany as well as in the USA)

  • bppump911

    Who built that data center?  It didn’t get outsourced to China, so it must have been built by local workers.

  • Bob Forsberg

    Is Data Center training a common factor in the local population education system? What if Apple built it in India…..only 50 jobs lost?

  • muusic

    All the transplated and commuting employees will need food, gasoline, and other services — so they will be contributing to the local economy.

  • Samuraiartguy

    Considering that the place is 90% server farm, not a lot of humans involved running the place… just an observation.

  • psychobueller

    It’s a data center, not an automobile factory. What did the locals think they were getting?

  • volodoscope

    I mean, it’s all robots and machines. It’s pretty much on auto-pilot most of the time.

  • Karl

    Agreed… people hand to build that thing. Some companies got contracts to design. The electrical work. Plumbing. Drywall. Interior design. etc. Plus delivering the supplies and excavating. Plus on going maintenance and cleaning. Plus property tax revenue. 

  • Aaron

    Looking at Google Maps, which shows the finished location, I would say there are only around 50 parking spaces.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=

  • LAWRENCE

    This structure is not complete in this image as evidence of contractor’s trailer/offices in foreground. More than 50 jobs part time as viewed by all of contractor’s / laborer’s autos in parking and materials piled  around vehicles.

  • David Butt

    Maiden, NC, Population 3,400, probably has a working age population of about 2,000 to 2,500. Fifty new jobs into a small population should be a measurable percentage increase. I know if someone came to our small town with a promise of 50 new skilled, well-paying jobs, our mayor & council would be a all over it. Additionally, provided Maiden didn’t give Apple a tax holiday to get them to locate there, the additional tax income from a billion+ dollar project should help the town continue to manage taxation within reasonable bounds or provide the services the community wishes.

  • Brian O’Brien

    The new facility and everything that comes with it ADDS to the local economy. This isn’t a Wal-Mart! 

  • Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira

    Why would a datacenter create MANY jobs?
    Few people can make it work.Small companies create MORE jobs than the big bucks. But people want cheap goods.

  • GH

    Why would it need even 50 workers?   

  • obamapacman

    That’s probably an old photo.

  • morgan3nelson

    Lets be completely honest here – how many TOTAL jobs did the Data Center create?  First of all there were the construction jobs created to BUILD the Data Center.  Then there were the jobs created to clean up the site after construction. and lastly there are the jobs created to maintain and run the Data Center.  Obviously the number of people employed by the Apple Data Center were in excess of 50.

    All of those employees – past and present – infused the local economy with the purchase of goods and the payment of taxes.

    The problem with Maiden (as it displayed out all across small town America) is a lack of education.  “Those data jobs are not for us.”  Not because Apple doesn’t want to hire from Maiden but because Maiden residents lack the education, knowledge and skill to fill the job.

    I feel for Maiden, but if my community had a juggernaut like Apple infuse the economy with a 5% increase in high tech jobs we would be jumping for joy!  remember – these jobs pay much more than furniture assembly and therefore grab more taxes for the community. 

  • Josiah Carminati

    I agree with the majority of the commenters on this article that this is still a good thing for the local community. One thing that was not mentioned was that those fifty workers, if they are from out of town, will have to live locally which means that they will spend money at local grocery stores, need people to mow their lawns and trim their hedges, have appliances that need to be fixed or replaced, go see the occasional movie out and pay local taxes. These people will not live in an Apple isolation chamber, they will become part of the community and will have opportunities to contribute to the local economy as well. 

  • Len Williams

    This story is very odd. It’s not Apple’s responsibility to provide jobs for people in the local community, especially since the jobs require a great deal of training and experience. Apple is not Walmart, where all you need is an average IQ. The community gets TONS of property taxes from Apple that goes into the town coffers for all kinds of projects–unless there’s malfeasance going on with the town council. I would imagine that the people who work at the new Data Center will live and shop in the town, making more income for real estate workers and all kinds of local businesses.

    Unfortunately this article is written with the underlying concept that Apple owes something to the community over and above what other local businesses don’t, just because it’s a big company. Sounds like this idea of “make the successful people pay to support the unsuccessful people” that’s so popular with our federal government these days. Apple has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. and around the world, and this is a good thing. Singling out the Data Center and criticizing it for not providing local jobs is just silly and very nearsighted.

  • NukemHill

    This is an epically stupid headline and article.  Apple’s not in the “employment” business.  They’re in the “technology” business.  They’ll hire as many employees as they need to run any particular part of their business as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    Massive Fail.  Take your ideological slants out of your articles.

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    Articles like this are just meant to foment discontent towards Apple.  Most likely any data center built by any company wouldn’t require a large staff to run it.  These articles make it appear as if Apple is somehow the exception to needing a huge data center staff to keep it running.  If Apple doubled the needed staff, even that probably wouldn’t quiet the discontent of local residents.  I’m sure the locals would want everyone that doesn’t have a job to have Apple supply them with one because Apple is such a wealthy company.

    If a data center actually required a huge staff to run it, there’d likely be something very wrong with it.  People running around replacing drives and components every few hours.  How stupid these hiring articles are because I’m sure the leaders of the Maiden community knew exactly how many jobs were going to be had well in advance and I’m sure there was no deception involved on Apple’s part.

    How about the government implementing a WPA program like it did decades ago?  There’s a hell of a lot of infrastructure that needs fixing and it would employ a lot of meatbags doing menial labor.

  • Patrick M Phillips

    Since when is it a company’s duty to create jobs for the sake of creating jobs?  The premise of this article is just stupid

  • Patrick M Phillips

    because the WPA was a miserable failure, as all government spending is.  Diverting scarce capital into nonproductive make-work projects only serves to deny it to others who might actually CREATE something of value, and thus create REAL employment in the productive market.  

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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