The sheer amount of jobs that were lost during the Great Recession is nothing short of breathtaking. Nearly 8 million jobs were lost, and the sad reality is that a lot of those may never come back. That sparked a conversation about how to create jobs in one of the most promising growth sectors we have left: tech.
President Obama hosted a dinner in Silicon Valley back in 2011 for exactly that reason, dining with a who’s who of the tech elite. The combined value of all the major tech giants in attendance — including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX),Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO), and others — was nearly $1 trillion.
It’s hard to say whether or not that supper directly yielded any meaningful results in terms of domestic job creation. It has, however, contributed to a broader renewed interest in bringing jobs back from overseas among tech heavyweights looking to earn some political goodwill, even as they carefully balance the cost-minimizing demands of investors.
Can the future of tech truly be made in America?
The Mac maker
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in particular has taken a majority of the criticism, largely due to its increasing scope of influence on the global economy. The Mac maker outsourced production to overseas manufacturing partners in the late ’90s under the direction of Tim Cook, who joined the company in 1998 as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) flirted with bankruptcy and every dollar counted.
Steve Jobs made it clear that “those jobs aren’t coming back” because the U.S. has a smaller supply of mid-level industrial engineers relative to countries like China. That was then, but Tim Cook has since become CEO. Cook differs from his predecessor in many ways, including his willingness to bring some jobs back. The new Mac Pro, for example, will be assembled in the U.S.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new marketing campaign that focuses on its brand also emphasizes its “Designed by Apple in California” signature. During his tax grilling, Cook reiterated numerous times how proud he was that 95% of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s research and development takes place stateside, despite scrutiny over the IP rights that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares with its Irish subsidiary.
The search giant
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has also made similarly patriotic pushes. The search giant was originally planning to launch a Nexus Q streaming set-top box last year that was proudly manufactured in the U.S. The Nexus Q would be doomed, largely due to its high price and limited functionality, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) discontinued it before retail launch. The domestic assembly inevitably added to the Nexus Q’s costs.