‘The ecosystem can only amplify itself:’ How Apple, Google plans could lead to job gains outside tech industry

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Apple’s decision to bring an engineering hub to the Triangle could lead to a domino effect of employment that could ripple well beyond the tech industry.

An economist already counting on a boost from Google’s decision last month to locate a hub of its own in Durham is hoping for a second jolt of employment progress from Apple’s move.

“As a job multiplier, now that we have Google and Apple here, the ecosystem can only amplify itself, right?” said Dr. Arvind Malhotra, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. “This is like a double dose of good news, I think, layered on top of each other. They’re multipliers in themselves. Google followed by Apple.”

While Apple touts itself as being responsible for 2 million jobs across all 50 states, the tech giant did not estimate how many jobs outside its campuses are created as a result of those openings.

But economist Enrico Moretti, in his 2012 book “The New Geography of Jobs,” estimates that every new high-tech job in a metropolitan area — and the Triangle certainly qualifies as one — results in five other jobs being created. Of those, he estimates two in professional fields — doctors and lawyers — and the other three come in what he considers nonprofessional occupations — like waiters and clerks.

A study from 2018 also found Google’s data center in Lenoir had a jobs multiplier of 4.1 — that is every new job created there led to more than three jobs in the community.

Malhotra says those numbers “can be debated because they’re futuristic numbers, for sure,” and prefers to attach a timeline to those projections, saying he would like to see the benefits within five years.

“In the long run, we have more technical talent, then it’s going to attract more companies, then it’s going to create jobs outside the ecosystem,” Malhotra said. 

“I think there’s this snowball, which is building and I think, having seen this happen earlier, there is a tipping point,” he added. “The question is, are we now closing near the tipping point, or one or two more pushes, and we’re there? And then the multiplier at some point becomes redundant, because it actually does happen.

“As far as producing next generation talent, that itself then will attract new companies and that’ll create jobs outside the tech center for all the support in human resources, housing. You know, we’re already expanding pretty well in medicals. I can only see that being pushed even further.”

Another factor that bodes well for the Triangle, he said — that the hub will create jobs both in managerial and technical spheres, saying they “want to create programs for training talent that is very specific to their needs.

“I think if that comes through, I think that that’s wonderful because it will put us on the roadmap for the next-generation technologies. … It puts us in that orbit, to a large extent.”

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