Apple: We made 514,000 jobsMarch 5, 2012: 11:17 AM ET
According to Apple, the company has directly employed 47,000 workers in the United States. Beyond that, the tech company says it is responsible for another 257,000 U.S. jobs at outside firms, from glass manufacturers at Corning all the way down to the FedEx and UPS employees who deliver iGadgets.
Apple also claims that 210,000 jobs have been created in the "App Economy" since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.
Add all that up, and you get 514,000.
This is the first time Apple has released an estimate of the number of jobs it has created, although the practice is fairly common in the tech industry. Google, for instance, estimates the economic activity it helps create.
But claims of this kind are often thought of as unreliable -- and for Apple, the new estimate comes at a time when the company is coming under increased scrutiny for labor practices in overseas markets.
Apple is basing the 257,000 jobs created at other companies figure on a study conducted by Analysis Group, a consulting firm.
The study quantified Apple's job creation by taking the tech giant's total spending on goods and services in 2011 and putting that through a Bureau of Economic Analysis formula that uses a "multiplier" to calculate the number of jobs created.
Calculating job creation this way is not without controversy (look no further than President Obama's stimulus package). Still, Apple says it is being conservative by not counting an additional 187,000 jobs that have been created as a result of spending by people directly or indirectly paid by Apple.
As far as the "App Economy" goes, Apple is basing those numbers on a study conducted by TechNet, a group that represents the tech industry's interests in Washington. The TechNet survey's methodology is based in part on measuring the frequency of want ads, with job creation extrapolated from there.
It's not clear why Apple is wading into the job creation estimation game, something that is increasingly used to justify all kinds of things -- from legislation on Capitol Hill to the construction of new sports arenas.
Politics may be playing a part, as Apple is sitting on almost $100 billion in cash at a time when some politicians are calling for more investment from major corporations that are flush. And Apple may be particularly touchy because tech companies just don't employ that many workers. Compare Apple's 47,000 in the U.S. to General Motors in the 1970s, for instance, when the automaker had more than 600,000 workers on the payroll.
As recently as 1993, GM had 448,000 U.S. employees, or 10 times Apple's current roster.