Let’s look at a few facts.
Apple Retail stores were the number one retailer last year, taking in more money per square foot than any other US retailer, including number two Tiffany, which made a bit more than half of that. Sounds good, right? Then take a look at what a retail employee, Jordan Golson, has to say.
“I was earning $11.25 an hour,” he said. “Part of me was thinking, ‘This is great. I’m an Apple fan, the store is doing really well.’ But when you look at the amount of money the company is making and then you look at your paycheck, it’s kind of tough.”
The disconnect between the incredible success of the corporation and the relatively low-end pay scale of its retail employees, as well as the reasons those retail employees continue to work for Apple, is the subject of a report in the New York Times today.
According to the Times, Apple employs 43,000 people, around 30,000 of whom work in the retail stores. Many of those earn only $25,000 per year, as compared to, say, CEO Tim Cook, who is worth more than $570 million at the current Apple stock share price.
The Times makes it clear that Apple is still offering their retail employees a better deal than most retailers like the Gap. Apple also offers better benefits than other retailers, according to the report, including health care, retirement account contributions, the ability to buy Apple stock, and a discount on Apple products. Can this be such a bad thing?
Says the Times, “Divide revenue by total number of employees and you find that last year, each Apple store employee — that includes non-sales staff like technicians and people stocking shelves — brought in $473,000.” These are seriously high rates of return per employee, none of whom receive a commission on sales, as compared to wireless retailers like Verizon and AT&T, both of whom carry Apple products.
Can this continue? Will the current economic climate allow Apple to increase salaries beyond the reported amounts shared anecdotally with the Times? Why is the New York Times focused on Apple, and not, say, The Gap, who pays less than Apple does?
My thought on this is twofold. One, Apple is winning so hard right now that they’re the biggest target in sight. The Times is simply hinting at it’s own weight. Second, the disparity between the corporate and retail employee pay is striking. It’s hard not to root for the underdog, here. It’s ironic that the underdog company of the 1990s is now “the man” keeping it’s employees down. It was inevitable, however, with the incredible amount of success Apple has had in the past ten years.
Be sure to read through the Times article in full; it’s full of great quotes and ideas about our favorite company.
Source: New York Times
Image: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency