June 25, 2012

Why does the NYT have a 4000-word article about Apple Store workers only making $11.25 an hour?

"By the standards of retailing, Apple offers above average pay — well above the minimum wage of $7.25 and better than the Gap, though slightly less than Lululemon, the yoga and athletic apparel chain, where sales staff earn about $12 an hour."

So what's the problem? What's the issue? Why is this a story? The presumption seems to be that because Apple makes so much money, it ought to redistribute more of it to the people who happen to work in the stores. But why?
Much of the debate about American unemployment has focused on why companies have moved factories overseas, but only 8 percent of the American work force is in manufacturing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth has for decades been led by service-related work, and any recovery with real legs, labor experts say, will be powered and sustained by this segment of the economy.

And as the service sector has grown, the definition of a career has been reframed for millions of American workers.

“In the service sector, companies provide a little bit of training and hope their employees leave after a few years,” says Arne L. Kalleberg, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina. “Especially now, given the number of college kids willing to work for low wages.”
Are you seeing the issue? There's some idea that these college-kid jobs need to be turned into careers... because... people need careers?
“It’s interesting to ask why we find it offensive that Wal-Mart pays a single mother $9 an hour, but we don’t find it offensive that Apple pays a young man $12 an hour,” [said Paul Osterman, a professor at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management]. “For each company, the logic is the same — there is a line of people eager to take the job. In effect, we’re saying that our value judgments depend on the circumstances of the employee, not just supply and demand of the labor market.”
It's interesting that we're not offended by even more things. That's assuming that you were already offended that sales workers at Wal-Mart only get $9 an hour. But why is that offensive? I don't get Osterman at all. He's trying to shift us from thinking about which people we have empathy for to which companies we feel hostility toward.

81 comments:

Pogo said...

You can usually make these morons sputter and then shut up by advocating that the minimum wage should be $100 per hour.

Even the most Marxist among them can't figure out how this would work, as they grasp that at this level there simply isn't enough money to pay them that wage.

At $10/hour or less, they can imagine it's all "free" to the company, but above that they have a gut feeling something's wrong, even if they cannot explain it.

leslyn said...

He's trying to shift us from thinking about which people we have empathy for to which companies we feel hostility toward.

Obviously we should never have criticism toward companies. They're not people.

Oh wait....

MadisonMan said...

I think it is interesting that someone who sells $750K in merchandise in a quarter (!) gets paid so very very little. You can argue that the product sells itself (Does it?), but still -- I think the human factor in a sale is very important, especially for a tech product.

That said, however, if you don't like what you're making wage-wise, find another place to work.

Peter said...

When you get to the end of the story, they get to mentioning that there are always far more people applying for these jobs than available jobs.

And in passing, although these jobs don't pay much, they pay more than many other retail jobs and have better benefits.

So, where's the story?

Pogo said...

Oh, a company is people all right, just not specific people.

Faceless, and to the average Joe, nonpersons, and therefore can be hated without remorse or justification.

FloridaSteve said...

I swear, the more "Nixonian" I see Obama becoming the more I expect to see Wage and Price controls floated.

YoungHegelian said...

Why do folks with great Mac skills take those crappy paying jobs?

Because even if the store pays you crap, you get to pick up work on the side from the customers, both consumer & business, that routinely pays them $100+ an hour.

In the NYC area, I'm sure that setting up Macs on a Windows network for, (e.g.) a law office, is $150.00 an hour work.

Widmerpool said...

It speaks volumes about your greed and malevolence that you don't share in the goal of creating the US Department of Fair Wages.

ricpic said...

None of these professors will even talk about the fact that the engine of a revived economy will be greater savings, not consumption, and the key to greater savings is less government pilfering from your wallet, much lower taxation, which will translate to more investment in the supposedly dead manufacturing sector. Manufacturing, not service, will lead us out of this slough but FIRST government has to contract. And government is the professors' God.

Bryan C said...

What about all of us non-urbanites who don't even have an Apple Store? We're left to buy our Apple products from Target and Walmart, from underpaid sales slaves who often drop dead from exhaustion and starvation before the credit card can finish processing.

The government should require Apple to open more stores in economically disadvantaged locations. Doesn't Apple owe us this, at least, in return for the government allowing them to become so successful?

Scott M said...

Obviously we should never have criticism toward companies.

Even from a snarky point of view, how did you arrive at that comment?

Chuck66 said...

I looked at this issue at the newsstand yesterday. They also have a big story on Romney's big donors and the special access they get to Romney. Hmmm, I guess Obama didn't go to Hollywood last week for a $40,000 a plate fundraiser.

Shanna said...

I think it is interesting that someone who sells $750K in merchandise in a quarter (!) gets paid so very very little.

They work in retail. It doesn't matter how much best buy sells a year, it's about the skill level of the actual employee required to do the job. Minimum wage at some places, 9 dollars at Walmart compared to that sounds pretty good, and I'm sure some of these college students are happy to be making a few bucks over minimum wage until they graduate. We need low wage, part time jobs to be available to people.

11 bucks sounds about right considering that we are talking essentially about retail employees, but employees who are expected to have a skill level a bit above the average retail employee.

rhhardin said...

Mike Munger on what happens when you raise Wal-mart wages (the jobs get gentrified, upgraded and taken over by more skilled people).

Also a nice treatment of fair trade coffee and why it can't work.

Podcast page.

TosaGuy said...

I've walked by my nearby Apple Store and its packed with employees. Way more that what would seem to be needed.

Apple can provide this at $11/hr. I can guarantee it won't at $18/hr.

People who shop at the Apple Store want a "buying experience." People who want simply want an Apple product go to Walmart, Target, Best Buy, ATT, Sprint, Verizon or online.

The worst thing that can happen in this country with regard to work for the the young and inexperienced is for employers and employees to treat every job as a "career job". You will eliminate employee turnover and make it very hard to enter into employment.

Empathy for those who earn $11/hr for entry level work does no favors for those seeking to enter the workforce.

edutcher said...

One has the impression even the Gray Lady thinks Little Zero and the Demos (sounds like a rock 'n' roll group) have so poisoned the economy that a life of low-level jobs is all that will be left for years to come.

FloridaSteve said...

I swear, the more "Nixonian" I see Obama becoming the more I expect to see Wage and Price controls floated.

Second term, when he has more "flexibility".

Well, we've already got the big cover-up...

AJ Lynch said...

I always thought Teddy Kennedy was being a phony, spineless cocksucker when he & other Dems advocated for tiny, meaningless increases in the minimum wage.

Also, it would be interesting to know how much the NYT pays its telemarketers.

rhhardin said...

Econonomic reminder: You have to be paid less than the job is worth to the employer.

Also you have to be paid more than the job is worth to you.

If both of those are satisfied, then both sides come out ahead, there's a job, and wealth is increased.

If one or the other is not true, there's no job.

bagoh20 said...

The reason is simple. Say their are two stores in the mall both selling the same cell phones. One pays their people $10/hr and the other $30/hr. Everything else is identical, except the pricing of the phones of course.

Where will you buy your phone? Which company will be there next year?

In reality, the two stores would never be equal. One would be better stocked, with better displays because it had the extra money to do so.

traditionalguy said...

Why do mega successful private businesses suddenly draw aparatchiks inserting false negative perceptions in the media?

It has seemed to be a repeated John Dillinger tactic among "Community Conscience Leaders."

These Conscience leaders want a payoff; and like Dillinger said, "the banks are where the money is."

Mega donations to these guy's 401(c)3s gets the bad PR heat lifted instead of ramped up.

Jessie Jackson types and today's Green-Marxists are skilled at using this easy source of funding.

To make the threat real, they will take an innocent Corporation like Koch Industries and show how their power of Terroristic Propaganda works when applied as an unceasing drumbeat of false accusations.

So pay up Mr Apple. It's protection money, and you don't want to cross the new God Fathers.

John said...

Naturally there is blather about manufacturing jobs and how they have moved overseas.

Two points:

First the US still manufactures about 19% of ALL the world's manufactured goods. In the US. This has been fairly steady for 50 years or more now.

Second, the jobs have disappeared not do to movement but just disappearance. I was looking at the steel industry a few weeks ago. We still make a lot of steel. Down some but still a lot.

Steel mill jobs are WAY down. Reason? 30 years ago it too 17 man hours to make a ton of steel. Today it takes 3.

Most of the un and semi-skilled factory jobs that people bewail the loss of were shitty jobs that did not pay well. The person making $12 in an Apple store is probably much better off in terms of pay, certainly in terms of working conditions and probably in terms of job security/work stability.

I suspect that the Apple Store job is much more interesting than factory work of comparable skill requirements.

John Henry

Jay said...

So what's the problem? What's the issue? Why is this a story?

Because you're reading an article written by someone who believes companies exist to provide jobs.

bagoh20 said...

The reason companies don't pay more is because you don't want them too. They would have to charge you for it, and you want a deal. It's your fault, so just start tipping everyone you see working, or shut up.

john said...

Maybe single mothers don't get employed at Apple?

Or perhaps, she is the NYT vision of a single mother suitable only for work at Walmart (middle age, big hair, big butt, smokes on break) who would never have any reason to even shop at an Apple store, much less work at one.

As said above, she would buy her ipad (and sanitary pads and lipstick) when she needs to at Target.

Dave Segal: elitist low life.

bagoh20 said...

Imagine if your first job paid well enough that you never left it. Personally, I'd be exhausted by now.

John said...

One other point about Apple and pay:

the relevant figure is not how much Apple pays. It is how much the employee costs.

Add in SS/Medicare (7.5% or so), sick leave, holidays, vacations, workers comp, unemployment and so on.

Then the biggie, health insurance. This probably costs $12,000/year per employee in NYC. That is $6 per hour that the employee is getting right there (plus possible tax benefits)

I suspect that the cost to Apple for that employee is in the range of $18-24 per hour.

Plus other overhead expenses such as supervision, hiring/termination, training, bathrooms, break room, thanksgiving turkey, employee discounts and on and on.

Each employee has to sell a lot for Apple to just break even on them.

If an employee sells $3mm/yr ($750m/quarter)and store margin is, say, 10%, that means the employee brings in $300,000 in gross "profit" each year. Out of that comes salaries, taxes, rent, permit fees, regulatory compliance, utilities and everything else that is required to keep the store going.

I am always amazed that anyone ever chooses to open a business at all.

John Henry

John said...

I said:

"Out of that comes salaries, taxes, rent, permit fees, regulatory compliance, utilities and everything else that is required to keep the store going."

And it is not really any different from the "Fuck you, pay me" scene in Goodfellas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c3bhh8fqYs

John Henry

Lyssa said...

Shanna said: and I'm sure some of these college students are happy to be making a few bucks over minimum wage until they graduate. We need low wage, part time jobs to be available to people.

When I was in college, about 1999, minimum wage was $5.15, and I landed a very p/t job paying $7/hour - I thought that I'd hit the lottery; it seemed like an enormous amount of money compared to every job I'd had before and my friends' jobs.


I'm sure that college student Apple employees are perfectly happy to be over minimum wage, not doing anything dangerous or physically draining, and working for a "cool" employer.

Lyssa said...

Part of that great $7/hour job, by the way, involved helping a partially paralyzed elderly woman use the bathroom.

TosaGuy said...

Right now in Milwaukee, unskilled laborers at Palermos Pizza are striking over their $14/hr wage (which is market rate)....and that fact that ICE showed up and found some illegals so the local do-gooder Latino group showed up to agitate the workers. Mayor Tom has reverted to his usual silent self.

Palermos built a brand new factory and corporate office in the middle of Milwaukee in an area of high unemployment. It now employs 450. Milwaukee desperately needs about 100 more companies like this.

Regardless of how this situation works out for Palermos, the next business is looking at this situation and asking itself "why should I build in Milwaukee and get all this hassle when I could go build in Waukesha County and be appreciated."


The result is that Milwaukee is still looking for 99 more Palermo's.

TosaGuy said...

"I'm sure that college student Apple employees are perfectly happy to be over minimum wage, not doing anything dangerous or physically draining, and working for a "cool" employer."

They also get employee discounts.....a very important factor one when one's product becomes a cult.

PatCA said...

Now that the saint of cool, Steve Jobs, is gone, liberals are free to attack the latest non-unionized corporate giant.

First they came for Wal-Mart...

Apple Retail Union

Matthew Sablan said...

"Why does the NYT have a 4000-word article about Apple Store workers only making $11.25 an hour?"

-- Because people will read it (and some writer wrote it, so they best get their wages worth.)

TosaGuy said...

From PatCA's article link:

"Apple has more than 30,000 retail employees in its 325 stores around the world."

That is 92 employees per store.

Are we better off with 92 people working at a location or 54. I guarantee Apple would find a way to cut that to 54 if they needed to.

The Drill SGT said...

TosaGuy said...
"I'm sure that college student Apple employees are perfectly happy to be over minimum wage, not doing anything dangerous or physically draining, and working for a "cool" employer."

They also get employee discounts.....a very important factor one when one's product becomes a cult.


and most important... Get to meet chicks :)

Rusty said...

Lyssa said...
Part of that great $7/hour job, by the way, involved helping a partially paralyzed elderly woman use the bathroom.

Yeah, So?

Dave said...

This is a classic disconnect based on the longstanding distortion of social justice by the left and the equally long standing disregard for solidarity on the right. Osterman treats people by the numbers: they produce X in $ values thus their pay should be proportional to that. What is missing is the understanding that human beings are more than the product of their labor and that compassion and that employers have a responsibility to treat workers with respect. In order to see this Osterman must have the vision of the workplace as a community, not just a device for making money ( rare view unfortunately).

A socialist would compel a compassionate payment under the pretense of social justice; undermining the respect due the employer as well as his freedom. Ideally, the recipient of any charitable gift beyond the due payment of wages should be understood as a gift so that it can be received in gratitude. The compassion of the employer and the gratitude of the worker creates solidarity and a sense of community in the workplace (yes it's rare, but it doesn't have to be). Trying to compel that by the ideal by the law and you end up with resentment of the employer plus a sense of entitlement of the worker, creating an unnecessary tension in the workplace. The political distortion of the moral principle of social justice is foundational to Socialism. Like most effective lies it has an element of the truth in it. We should care about the plight of the single mother and the long term prospects of the young and we should help out when we can, in our own way. It's the notion that we must force the employer to do more that is the problem. An authentic community develops through voluntary action; compulsion negates charity and it's benefits.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

About a decade ago, prior to becoming a retailer, Apple employed exactly 0 people in its non-existent retail storefronts and paid them exactly $0.00 per hour. Rather than celebrate all the people who now have jobs because Apple took a big risk to become a retailer, let's pretend those employees are being oppressed by the evil corporation.

Let's ignore the fact the "oppressed" employees wake up every day and voluntarily decide to go to work...and that the minute they find a better deal someplace else, they will stop coming to work at Apple.

Those oppressed employees can always go to work in the North Dakota oil boom where there's a labor shortage and unemployment is 3%. I read that McDonald's is currently paying $15 per hour there. Unfortunately, there's also a housing shortage and they may have to live in a tent city for a while.

Bruce Hayden said...

Some have been calling Obama and AGW cults. Well, I think the same about Macs and Apple products in general. I will admit to owning an iPhone right now, but have it in an Otter box case.

This has been going on for quite some time now. Remember one guy who worked for us back when I was still doing software in the latter 1980s, and upon graduation with a CS degree decamped to Cupertino to do what it took to get in the front door. Something like how actors get entry level jobs in Hollywood - in this case maybe to wait tables until he could build contacts through people he meets while waiting on them. That sort of thing.

Really lost my enthusiasm for them when I was working as one of the Motorola IP/patent attorneys dealing with them when Jobs came back, and cost our company some quarter of a billion dollars, just to feed his ego. We had carried his company through three downturns, when they couldn't afford to pay for their processors, then got into bed with IBM at their behest for the PowerPC. Within a week of the screaming match between Jobs and our CEO, we started moving to Windows, despite still supplying the Mac processors. Had Macs again in the small firm I was with, before we got merged into a large regional firm.

Most recently though, kid got a Mac for college. A couple months later, knocked coffee onto it. Whoops. Couldn't get the battery out to keep it from getting fried. Another Jobs mandate.

Face it. If Apple comes up with a great idea, Microsoft will ultimately steal it, but if Microsoft does, Apple will continue to hold its nose up in the air for years to come. (e.g. one button mouse)

Scott M said...

God forgive me, I so love the word "decamped".

MadisonMan said...

Part of me wonders if $750K in product in a quarter is unusual for an Apple Store employee. I have no idea if that's so.

It seems to me, though, that a Used Car salesman moving $750K in product in a quarter is doing okay. $250K per month, or $60K weekly. Is selling 2-10 cars a week a good result for a car salesman?

Pastafarian said...

"...but only 8 percent of the American work force is in manufacturing...any recovery with real legs, labor experts say, will be powered and sustained by this (service) segment of the economy."

This moment of stupid brought to you by the same people who think that if A shines B's shoes, B does C's taxes, and C cleans A's teeth, this would be a self-sustaining economy.

Labor experts: Where I turn for economic theory.

Sooner or later, someone has to make, grow, or extract something. If everything is made from outside the economy, you're going to have to sell something to those people from outside. Maybe blowjobs; that's a service these labor experts could perform.

Any real recovery of our economy is going to have to be led by manufacturing. It's the backbone of any first-world economy.

Yes, gains in productivity have helped reduce the number of people required to manufacture; but we'd have one fuckload of a lot more manufacturing, and manufacturing employment, in the US were it not for "labor experts" and their leftist cohort who think everyone should make $18 per hour minimum, while "fracking" should be outlawed because it sounds scary, and those $18 per hour employees should be able to sue their employer if they sneeze toward them.

Scott M said...

Is selling 2-10 cars a week a good result for a car salesman?

I don't know how general this is for the car sales industry in general, but from all the years of doing remote broadcasts from dealerships, I got the impression that moving 10 cars a month was pretty good. It didn't seem like it to me, but neither did I realize just how often the lot inventory turns over.

wef said...

The word you are looking for is

shakedown

From wikilandia and obviously written by an anarchist with no respect for Government:

A protection racket is an extortion scheme whereby a criminal group or individual coerces a victim (usually a business) to pay money, supposedly for protection services against violence or property damage. Racketeers coerce reticent potential victims into buying "protection" by demonstrating what will happen if they don't—they damage the victims' property. In most cases, the racketeers do not actually protect their client from anything but the racketeers themselves, and their "protection" is merely extortion. However, if their victim is seriously threatened by a third party, sometimes gangsters will protect their source of revenue.

X said...

MadMan, in sales there are salesmen and there are order takers. Car salesmen are salesmen. Apple store employees are order takers.

Lyssa said...

Rusty said: Lyssa said...
Part of that great $7/hour job, by the way, involved helping a partially paralyzed elderly woman use the bathroom.

Yeah, So?


That was the reason that it paid more than the usual retail/food service/etc. minimum wage jobs that my friends had - because I had to do some added tasks that were less than pleasant.

I don't know too much about Apple's retail workers, but I doubt that they're doing much in the way of tasks that are above and beyond that usually called for by minimum wage retail jobs. So anything above minimum wage (or the prevailing wage for retail workers in their area) is a pretty darn good deal for them.

crosspatch said...

Now that Jobs is gone there is going to be a concerted effort to make Apple "uncool". The benefactor of that meme will be Google.

Now that Google has purchased a hardware manufacturer (Motorola), it is in direct competition with Apple for things like the iPhone (Motorola Razr) and iPad (Kindle Fire is an Android device as is the Nook).

Google is very good at playing this game and is very subtle with it.

bagoh20 said...

$750K per employee per quarter works out to over $1500/ hr every single hour of every single workday.

Not bloody likely.

Matthew Sablan said...

I'm actually curious though. $750k in three months is $250k in one month. Is he really selling them though? He might be up-selling people here and there, but I never really saw computer type things as the things you get a salesman for. Most people know what they need, right?

In 2010, Salem, NH, population was about 30k. So, each person in town would need to buy, roughly, $25 in Mac products from this guy in those three months to hit that number. That's pretty impressive, when you think about it. I've never worked sales, so I don't know if that's believable.

Especially since they say that Apple's 30k retail workers earn on average $25k a year, so, about $750,000,000 in just wages (on average) a year.

wildswan said...

So if these people have 401K and insurance, then they have to contribute to both these programs. Then their take home pay would be the same as Costco. They are very young and healthy so it would be hard for them to understand the benefits as compared to having money to take home.

But the real point is that they are expected to be high-dollar salesmen and most salesmen in their position - i.e., high dollar per foot in sales and high level of customer engagement - would be on commission. These Apple employees, no matter how hard they work, get the same money. This is a way of saying - move on. A company can decide to do that. Especially if the employees benefit by having worked for Apple and Apple benefits from turnover (which keeps wages low) without losing needed knowledge.
It isn't the image that Apple would make such calculations but otherwise it doesn't seem wrong. It is nothing like what goes on a Foxconn / Apple in China which causes suicides which is wrong.

John Lynch said...

Delivering pizzas pays me $15/hr, including tips. Sometimes I work over 12 hours in a day. I had 50 hours last week. Is that offensive? Anyone want to be offended on my behalf?

I love the job because I finally found a business that lets me work. I get plenty of hours and I'm left alone to do what's best for the store. I have more freedom as a delivery driver than any other job I've had. How much I make is largely up to me, everything I do matters, and I'm rewarded directly for my efforts.

What Rhhardin said about jobs being gentrified at higher wages- that's exactly right. If a wage gets high enough, you get people like me moving down to grab a entry level job. I've got a college degree (not that it matters) and a work ethic. The company loves people like me, but an entry-level job would otherwise go to someone farther down the employment chain. Raising wages just draws disgruntled office types rather than helping people trying to move up.

What keeps people from getting ahead isn't the hourly wage, it's hours. Getting enough hours is the hard part of an entry level job and why so many people work two jobs. This is so obvious yet very few commentators go beyond talking about the hourly wage. Here's a hint: if you raise the wage, people get fewer hours. Businesses look very closely at labor costs when they schedule. Nothing cuts into the soul of a manager deeper than the sight of a group of employees standing around doing nothing. The more you raise the wage, the harder employees will have to work for their hours, and the more selective employers will be about who they hire. I can get 10 hours of overtime because my hourly is fairly low. The business can afford to let me work enough to get ahead.

Don't want to work for Apple? Then don't. I'm sorry that the overeducated spawn of the middle class has to sell iPads to other overeducated people who got better jobs. Breaks me up inside. Perhaps they should learn a trade and get out of the black hole of retail. Maybe work a service job in a town that tips. Or find a use for that degree.

Synova said...

"That's assuming that you were already offended that sales workers at Wal-Mart only get $9 an hour."

And an interesting assumption it is.

Darrell said...

The Occupiers cringe at $10/hr because they are already getting a $30,000 allowance from mom and pop. You want them to take a pay cut?

Alex said...

It's because Apple is sitting on $120 billion cash and it's unseemly to pay their retail employees anything less then lavish wages. Besides Apple is always telling us how special they are and "don't compare us with anyone else", so why not hold them to their own ridiculous standard?

Michael said...

John Lynch again illustrates the value and dignity of work and rightly calls bullshit on the full of shit. Well done.

Rusty said...

Alex said...
It's because Apple is sitting on $120 billion cash and it's unseemly to pay their retail employees anything less then lavish wages. Besides Apple is always telling us how special they are and "don't compare us with anyone else", so why not hold them to their own ridiculous standard?


You're more than welcome to pay more than the retail price and give a tip as well.

Sigivald said...

“It’s interesting to ask why we find it offensive that Wal-Mart pays a single mother $9 an hour, but we don’t find it offensive that Apple pays a young man $12 an hour,

As our hostess said, that assumes "we" are offended by the former.

I'm not.

I suspect that single mother working at Wal-Mart has no better marketable or valuable skills than the ones she's using there, that very likely aren't worth more than $9 an hour (noting especially that with SS contributions and the like, her cost to Wal-Mart will be rather more than her declared salary).

cubanbob said...

John said...

As an employer you forgot to take in as part of the labor cost cost every mistake and screw up an employee makes. Depending on where the company is located and the benefits offered as a rule of thumb you can take the hourly rate and add 30% to 50% to get the true cost to the employer.

Why doesn't the sympathetic NYT offer those poor Apple retail clerks a free subscription? It's only fair.

cubanbob said...

John said...

As an employer you forgot to take in as part of the labor cost cost every mistake and screw up an employee makes. Depending on where the company is located and the benefits offered as a rule of thumb you can take the hourly rate and add 30% to 50% to get the true cost to the employer.

Why doesn't the sympathetic NYT offer those poor Apple retail clerks a free subscription? It's only fair.

Synova said...

I think that the fewest staff that could run a slow shift and keep the store open when I worked at Ross (a big discount retailer) was three. The shift supervisor, one associate to cashier, and one security person.

If four people want to check out at once, they stand in line.

Apple Stores are tiny compared to Ross but they always seem to have two or three times as many people working as they'd need to have.

Apple could hire one person for $20 instead of two people for $11.25.

Isn't hiring more people better?

MadisonMan said...

$750K per employee per quarter

It was just the one employee. Maybe he's the rock star of the place.

$1500/hour in product moved every hour is pretty good though. That's 3 or 4 iPads or 1 loaded iMac every single hour. Wow.

Cedarford said...

I think the basic problem was thought resolved a long time ago in America by unions and even their opponents like Henry Ford - the basic premise that a coal miner should make enough that he could afford to heat his home with coal in the winter, that a Ford worker or a Ford salesman at a dealership should make enough to afford a MOdel T.

Overseas, by revolution that said a farmer that produced a huge bounty did not have to starve his family to give most of his crop away to his serf=master landlord...on the notion that Free Markets and the abundant supply of similarly starving peasants meant the landlord could find the cheapest farmers willing to work the land while he and his own lived in splendor in the Imperial City.
(The solution was to kill the landlords or force them out at spearpoint or gunpoint and let the farmers have a fair return)

Even recently, Chavez's revolution in Venezuela was in part driven by a population fed up with the idea that nurses in hospitals were not paid enough to be able to afford to be treated in the hospitals they worked in. Fed up with enlisted soldiers living in squalor while officers made 20 times as much. Or farmers hit with mordita everywhere they turned while oil field vendors connected to the government lived like lords.

Apple ignores Henry Ford's maxim. At their long-term peril.
We call the growing gulf between wealthy owners and relentlessly gyped workers "Freedom! The wonderful ability of the global labor market to reward owners while lowering wages to the lowest bidder...freedom for true freedom-lovers at the top."
And we ignore that growing concentration of wealth into the hands of the few - the 1% - at our peril.

Synova said...

Sure Cedarford.

That's why serfs giving all their crops away went to work for the Jewish merchants in town instead. No, wait, they weren't allowed to leave the land. They weren't slaves, they were just owned by the land lord.

Someone working for Apple can quit.

In a better economy, the person working at Apple can quit sooner. In a better economy Apple has to pay more to retain the best employees.

In a better economy we'd have teenagers working at McDonald's again.

No matter what the *motivation* of people in Venezuela, the end result is an economic mess. Chavez has even had to use the law and army to coerce farmers into keeping land in production. People who would naturally be motivated by base human nature to grow and produce more food, have to be forced to it.

Contemplate the spectacle of what it actually TAKES to utterly remove all motivation for the productive sector to produce.

It's quite the accomplishment.

But there is no end to the utility of making business out to be the enemy. There will ALWAYS be someone who has a little more than other people have. Always someone to blame for "bad luck".

Revenant said...

Obviously we should never have criticism toward companies. They're not people. Oh wait....

It amuses me how many ostensibly intelligent people can't understand the reasoning behind Citizens United.

Here's the thing: corporations cannot speak. They cannot write. They cannot sing, or dance, or do anything at else... besides exist on paper.

When you forbid "a corporation" from doing something, what you are in fact doing is forbidding the owners and employees of that corporation from doing that thing. That is the point of the "corporations are people" line. You cannot censor a corporation without censoring actual human beings. That is why censoring corporations is grossly immoral, as well as obviously unconstitutional.

Revenant said...

If an employee is bringing in $3,000,000 a year in sales and only getting paid $23,000, he's missing a huge opportunity. He should quit and go into business for himself, or for a company that pays commissions. He'll be making well into six figures, easily.

... well, that is, unless the $3 million in Apple products is moving not because of the sales person, but because people really want Apple products. Unless, that is, any trained monkey would pull off the same $3 million in sales, because the real geniuses are the folks in Apple's marketing and R&D divisions.

In which case $11.25 an hour for the arduous task of moving money into and out of a cash register seems like an excellent deal.

Synova said...

(I should say, I think that most of the time, certainly when there were things called serfs, Jews were prevented from being merchants. Just to nit-pick myself.)

natatomic said...

After 2 years with Walt Disney World, I still only make $8.15/hr. Where's my sob story in the NYT?

Lyssa said...

well, that is, unless the $3 million in Apple products is moving not because of the sales person, but because people really want Apple products.

Maybe he's just a cashier, and spends his time ringing up the purchases that other people have done the "selling" on? When I worked as a cashier in a grocery store, I never kept track of how much I actually "sold", but it seems possible that I was turning over that much in sales just due to volume - but, of course, what I did or said had very, very little to do with whether or not the people actually purchased the products.

Cedarford said...

Synova - your pat response is that there is really no problem of a shrinking Middle Class and a dearth of opportunity for workers...or concentration of wealth in companies in a select inner circle that harvests the whole workforce productivity gains unto themselves.

***Because all Americans are Free as Freedom Lovers in a Free land to "quit and find a great job in North Dakota". (If they don't like the status quo.)

(If the peasants are restless and supposedly hungry...why let them pick themselves up and make cakes for the landed gentry! But the rest, the miners, farmers and such live in hovels because that is what the laissez faire market, and our laws and our soldiers backing those laws - determine is what they are worth. What are they going to do...act as responsible people and accept it is all their fault...or whine and foment Revolution against their betters???)

Sniff! If those bloody Colonials don't think they are being treated fairly in our American colonies..they are Free to move to London and get new jobs that will improve their sorry lot.

Alex said...

I do think that an Apple 'associate' who succeeds in upselling from a 16GB WiFi iPad to the 64GB LTE version should get a commission for that. However, how do you even prove that you upselt an item?

Synova said...

"Synova - your pat response is that there is really no problem of a shrinking Middle Class and a dearth of opportunity for workers..."

No.

I thought that I pretty clearly said the polar opposite.

Synova said...

Ford understood, not that he had an obligation to his workers to be fair, not that he ought to spread a bit of the wealth around that he was accumulating instead of keeping it himself, but that he needed a market and that his own employees were part of that market.

He understood that by having a market he'd be RICHER.

In some strange alternate reality there are hoards of business owners who are too stupid to realize that they need a market. They believe that if they buy stock for their appliance store, they will be richer if there is no one to buy the television sets.

This is the same reality where the savior of the people, and scourge of the greedy, Chavez, passes laws that appliance store owners may not mark up their televisions high enough to gain both a profit and enough capital to replace their stock at whatever the projected new cost of that stock will be.

Because of the fairness.

In fantasy land this *works*.

In fantasy land the appliance store owner can continue to have employees who get good wages and benefits.

Synova said...

In any case, no matter the offical economic system in play, the way for the appliance store own to stay in business *without* having to have a market, is to attach himself to power.

Do you think any of Chavez's buddies need a market to stay rich?

And, sure, this is also the case in the US where government power can keep you in business without maintaining a market.

Without the government, either Chavez or our own, choosing the winners and changing the game to something *other than* a market based economy, only a total moron businessman would believe that he could be rich while the masses were too poor to buy an i-pod.

PETER V. BELLA said...

Answer- The NYT cannot write anything short and sweet. Their so called reporters all think they are novelists. Their editors believe they are book editors.

Peter said...

Being a salesperson at an Apple Store is among the easiest retail sales jobs anywhere. One reason is that the limited product line means that salespeople do not require as much product knowledge as they would if they were at retailers with much wider product lines. The bigger reason is that because Apple has such tremendous customer loyalty, most sales are very easy sales: customers often enter the stores ready and willing to buy. It's probably quite unusual for a salesperson to spend 20 or 30 minutes trying to persuade a skeptical customer why an Apple product is better than what competitors offer.

Alex said...

Essentially Apple retail workers are glorified order takers and help to guide people to where the iPads are. Since Apple products sell themselves(Great design and genius marketing), when the person comes through the door, the sale has already been made.

madAsHell said...

Why does anyone read a 4000 word article about Apple employees in the NYT??

madAsHell said...

Dillinger said, "the banks are where the money is."

Willie Sutton must be spinning in his grave.

Michael K said...

When I was in practice, my office manager was paid $60,000 a year plus health insurance and a pension plan. I had to provide the latter in order to fund my own pension. She and one other employee ran my very busy surgery practice. She was worth it. Her husband was transferred to San Diego and she was going to quit.

She had helped me a lot when I left the previous larger group that I had been in for 14 years. She set up my office, etc. When she announced she was leaving, I offered to take her and her husband to Vienna with me where I was presenting a paper. I was that grateful for her help in the move. A few weeks before we were to go, she came to me and said she had been looking for a job in San Diego. She said, "They don't pay as well as you do." I said, "I know." She said, "If you won't take back the trip, I'll stay." So, I leased her a car since her commute was now an hour each way.

That sounds like I was being pretty foolish but, my former group, with four surgeons had 14 employees to do what my two were doing. Our gross revenues, collections not billings, were about 2/3 of the larger group. The point is that she and the other employee, who was great on the phone and with patients, were worth every penny. Surgery practices are big ticket businesses. If the secretary screws up one phone call, it can cost $5,000.

Pediatricians don't care because they exist on high volume, low fee practices. It's kind of like the difference between Fred, the jeweler's, and Wal Mart.

Employees earn what they are paid. If not, they are replaced.

bagoh20 said...

Synova, you wonderful woman. Well done.

sleepless nights said...

I'm offended by it.

Apple Store employees generally have a much higher level of knowledge than someone working at the Gap or even Best Buy. You should pay for it. They also have not just higher profits, but MUCH HIGHER MARGINS than your general retail store whose margins are razor thin; they're always on the precipice of going under.

I knew they were paid shit, but I didn't realize it was that bad. Well, they deserve their attitude then. It's about all they get besides their employee discount. It cements it as being a privileged nice kid job except I've seen adults working there since the economy crashed. It's bad enough being an adult computer expert and having to work at the mall, but to be paid unskilled wages as well from one of the few companies that can afford to pay you more? Yeah, I'd say that's messed up.

Let's not forget all those HB-1 visas they are constantly campaigning for saying there were no skilled US engineers. I have friends who came over on those. They were paid absolute shit for 7 or so years...exceptionally well-educated indentured servants really, post-docs and such, until their green cards came through allowing them to actually sell their skills for what they are worth on the market.

Meanwhile US engineers (also friends) with experience and training couldn't get jobs because they actually needed to support themselves or god forbid, a family. IOW, they needed to be paid.

(Sometimes I wonder if ppl sit around seeing how much brutality and fuckedupness they can take and still question someone's legitimate right to offense. Or maybe that's was just me back before Palin's treatment at the hands of the elites, Obama's election and the two-party bailout finally quashed my last libertarian impulse along with any remaining belief I had in the American Dream.)