The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Apple Raises Employee Wages

The bad economy has taken a toll on everyone . Americans are finding it extremely difficult to find a job, and those that have a job have seen wages and benefits frozen or cut. At one company, however, people are doing very well: The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is breaking the trend with plans to increase wages at its stores by up to 25 percent this year.

To those of you who are too young to remember what a good economy looks like, in good times, stories like this one are normal. A successful business enterprise has three main assets: a solid business model, smart management and good employees. Apple has them all, but it realizes that in order to keep those employees, it needs to offer them more. Thanks to its solid performance, it can. Despite the economic uncertainty, Apple has proven that it is possible to not only survive, but thrive in a competitive marketplace.

This is good, but we need more of it. America should to be doing everything it can to create the conditions for more Apples to develop and grow. We need hundreds of thousands of successful firms, some large and some small, that combine a smart plan, committed employees and focused managers into an enterprise that serves the public while raising wages and living standards.

It can be done; it’s how our economy was built. We can and will do it again.

Published on June 24, 2012 5:04 pm
  • David

    This seems coincident with the NYT piece yesterday, “Apple Stores’ Army, Long on Loyalty, short on Pay,” which shows Apple has some of the lowest wages in retail. Also recall that Apple got dinged for conspiring to suppress competition for employees with Intel, Google, Pixar et al.

  • WigWag

    According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple only gave it’s retail employees a raise after the NewYork Times began enquiring about Apple’s employment practices and pay scale. It looks like those Apple retail workers owe their pay raise to the muckrakers at the New York Times as much as they owe it to Apple’s success.

    The Los Amgeles Time story can be seen here,

    http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-apple-employees-new-york-times-20120623,0,3127129.story

    The original NewYork Times story that shamed Apple into giving the raises can be seen here,

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/business/apple-store-workers-loyal-but-short-on-pay.html?pagewanted=all

    So much for corporate generosity.

  • roadgeek

    Oh, please. Apple had to be shamed into giving their employees raises, which only proves that the NYT is good for something on rare occasions. This didn’t happen out of altruism or good business sense.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    “It can be done; it’s how our economy was built. We can and will do it again.”

    NO disagreement from me there. I’ll leave it to wiser heads to “demonstrate” how such an aim is impossible, impractical, inefficient, counterproductive, disincentivizing, leveling, reactionary, unpatriotic, overly patriotic, etc. Not that we haven’t heard abundantly from those particular wisdoms over the past 30-40 years. Indeed hadn’t we already been doing a sort of “impossible” – making wealth “out of nothing at all” (yes, bad paraphrase of bad Air Supply song) – during the 15 or so years leading up to the 2008 meltdown? And from a set of assumptions radically opposite of those being urged by VM? So then my final question: If we’re going to attempt similar “miracles” – miraculous on the view of the experts, not me – is it asking so much that we do them with a conscious and deliberate eye towards the benefit of human beings? And not JUST of bottom lines? Or have we perhaps new, undreamed-of wonders to draw from the elixir of stagnant wages?

    Many thanks for both a heartening news item and the right conclusions drawn therefrom.

  • http://www.reticulator.com The Reticulator

    What does corporate generosity have to do with it? Dr. Mead said nothing about corporations doing this out of good motives or without being pressured into it.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @The Reticulator: you are correct. Benevolence has nothing to do with Apple’s business decisions about wages and nothing in the post suggested that it did.

  • Kris

    Three cheers for the free market. Including a free press.

  • thibaud

    Looks like Mr Mead’s been played again. Shilling for Putin, now for AAPL…. good grief.

    Once again, Mr. Mead’s determination to thumb his nose at what he perceives as an obnoxious liberal consensus leads him into fatuous contrarianism.

    If Putin is viewed as a thug, no matter, but if Putin’s thuggery is causing pain to the Obama admin, then the wheels start spinning in Meadville, and – otlichno, Konstantin! – Putin is actually a conservative hero upholding Tsarist traditions of protecting the faith against Ottomanites and other infidels!

    If Apple is being exposed as a tax-evader on a massive scale, a sweatshop employer in China and a penny-pincher in the US, then Mead comes out with a post defending Apple.

    It’s posts like these that make you realize what a joke the blogosphere is compared to serious, professional, non-clownish journalism – such as the series of exposes by the Times that actually forced Apple to start paying the higher wages that attract the praise of our naive blogger.

  • Joe

    Don’t worry Thibaud, the only reason anyone reads this blog anyway is for your serial protestations. All is not lost.

  • thibaud

    Most people read this blog for comic relief, especially from the daily Baghdad Bob-style inversions of reality.

  • Richard S

    Do Americans still think this way, to the degree that they used to? Has the rise of over-protective child raising, and of preventive measures throughout America, due to fear of law suits (in part), started to reshape our character? Have we lost some of our can-do character, and replaced it with some elements of, does the law allow that/ is it safe?

  • Crocodile Chuck

    “It can be done; it’s how our economy was built. We can and will do it again.”

    The problem with the ‘we live in the best of all possible worlds’ view is that we are now five years on from the financial collapse-and the country is sinking into yet another recession.

    A 2nd opinion:http://www.mrctv.org/videos/charlie-rose-endorses-america-not-greatest-country-view-aaron-sorkin-show