Apple plans to join a small but growing number of companies that are bringing some manufacturing jobs back to the United States, drawn by the growing economic and political advantages of producing in their home market.
On Thursday, its chief executive, Tim Cook, who built Apple's efficient Asian manufacturing network, said the company would invest $100 million in producing some of its Mac PCs in the United States beyond some of the assembly it already does in the United States. He provided little detail about how the money would be spent or what kinds of workers might benefit.
Apple, which long manufactured in the United States but stopped about a decade ago, has been under pressure to create more jobs in this country given its market power. It sold more than 200 million iPods, iPads, Macs and other devices in the year ended in September.
"I don't think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job," Mr. Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek. "But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs."
Some analysts are hopeful that the move by a big, innovative company like Apple could inspire a broader renaissance in U.S. manufacturing, but a number of experts remain skeptical.
"I find it hard to see how the supply chains that drive manufacturing are going to move back here," said Andre Sharon, a professor at Boston University and director of the Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation. "It's great when a company says they want to create American jobs -- but it only really helps the country if those are jobs that belong here, if it starts a chain reaction or is part of a bigger economic shift."
Over the last few years, companies across various industries, including electronics, automotive and medical devices, have announced that they are "reshoring" jobs after decades of shipping them abroad. Lower energy costs in America, rising wages in developing countries, quality control issues, and the desire to keep the supply chain close to the gigantic U.S. consumer base have all factored into these decisions.
"Companies were going abroad in pursuit of cost reduction, and it turns out there were a lot of unintended costs," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. "America has been looking a lot more competitive lately."
Even so, the impact on the U.S. job market has been modest so far. Much of the work brought back has been high value-added, automated production that requires few actual workers, which is part of the reason America's higher wages are not scaring off companies.