Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed today, in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, that the hardware titans have formed a new, $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
While President Donald Trump is certain to approve, the initiative was something that Apple began working on well before he was elected, going back to June 2016 according to reports in Japanese newspaper, The Nikkei. Apple has invested previously in U.S. hardware production with a Mac facility in Texas, as TechCrunch reported last year.
The announcement came just one day after Apple delivered a mixed quarterly earnings report. It didn’t deliver on projected iPhone and iPad sales, but recorded a rise in service revenue, and improvements in sales in China, a market that has been historically challenging for American hardware companies.
During the interview, Cook said Apple will reveal its first investments from this fund, later this month. It’s not clear what the exact nature of those investments will be yet, and how they will deliver returns back to the new fund or Apple.
The unemployment rate in computer and electronic manufacturing in the US was relatively low at 2.2% in December 2016, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the number of people employed in this field has mostly been on the decline in the US since 2007. Manufacturing, more broadly, employs some 9% of the US workforce.
According to a Skills Gap study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute 80% of US manufacturers are facing a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly-skilled production positions in their facilities.
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