During the past few weeks, one quote from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography has bounced around the tech and mainstream media. It’s the quote where President Obama asked Jobs about Apple manufacturing jobs that had been shipped oversees and Jobs responds “those jobs aren’t coming back” – words the President decided to ignore during his State of the Union speech last month. Instead, Obama called on tech companies to bring those jobs back.
With all due respect to the White House, it seems pretty likely that those jobs aren’t coming back. Anyone that doubts that needs to reread the first New York Times piece on Apple’s manufacturing partners. The U.S. simply cannot match the manufacturing capacity in China and elsewhere. Get over it. Those jobs are gone but that doesn’t mean Apple and other tech companies aren’t creating new jobs right here at home. In fact, Apple and other tech company have create an entire to category of jobs and filled half a million of them with American workers.
For years, there’s been questions and speculation about how many jobs Apple’s App Store and similar marketplaces for other mobile and web platforms have created. Today, a study sponsored by bipartisan coalition TechNet and carried out by Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics has answered that question. The emerging “app economy” has created 466,000 jobs in the U.S. – no small feat given the current economic climate and considering there was no such thing as an App Economy five years ago.
This so-called app economy includes mobile platform app markets like Apple’s App Store as well as app creators like Zynga that focus on social media and web platforms like Facebook. The companies thriving in this new market expected powerhouses like Zynga and Electronic Arts as well as smaller independent app shops. They also include jobs at the companies running the various app stores and services like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon. Increasingly, an app-focused culture will also create a swath of under-the-radar jobs at enterprise companies to create inter all apps for the staff of those companies.
While these jobs are focused on app development, they aren’t all development jobs. Other critical job titles for the app economy include graphic and interface designers, marketing specialists, project managers and support staff. There is also some spillover into traditional fields for industry-specific apps – healthcare professionals for medical apps being one example.
In a global society, the truth is that not all of these app-related jobs will be created in the U.S. and even those that are will tend to be located in tech-centric locales. California, for example, houses about a quarter of U.S. app economy jobs. A separate study found that 232,000 Facebook app-related jobs have been created in Europe.
Still, the study proves that tech companies are created hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs for Americans. They aren’t the jobs that the country has lost, but they are good ones and they are forward-looking 21st century jobs.
Quite frankly, these are jobs that American politicians should be partnering with American tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook to create and encourage instead of castigating and punishing them for jobs that the U.S. simply cannot create in a global marketplace.
These are the kinds of jobs that are ideal for a new generation of Americans – and these are the jobs that are America’s to lose if its leaders remain stuck in the past rather the looking at the world realistically so that they can be a partner in 21st century American job creation.