Out where the buffalo roam, on the plains of the Badlands, near the border with Canada, four Apple employees spend their days working for the wealthiest company in the US.
It’s probably not exactly all home, home on the range. But it may be close. And while Apple’s tiny cadre of workers in North Dakota is the fewest it employs in any US state, it does mean that the company has employees in every single state.
Apple unveiled a new website Wednesday (May 3) listing where all of its more than 77,000 US employees are based, as well as describing the 2 million jobs it believes it’s created for the US economy, through developers creating programs for its app stores, and companies supplying parts for its products. CEO Tim Cook also said on CNBC that Apple plans to invest an additional $1 billion into bringing manufacturing jobs to the US—something that will likely be welcome news to president Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the maker of the most popular gadget of all time for not manufacturing it on home soil.
It’s possible that Apple is making a push into employing more Americans in an effort to convince Trump, and the majority-Republican congress, to pass tax reform that would allow Apple to repatriate the hundreds of billions it holds abroad. As Quartz’s Tim Fernholz recently reported, Apple hoards much of the foreign income it earns overseas, because if it were to bring that money back to the US, it would face billions in taxes.
Speaking on CNBC, Cook said that the $1 billion Apple will invest in the US is borrowed money, insinuating that to keep up investing like this, it would really need to bring its foreign income back to the US. “We are in a good position, but an unusual one. Our good position is we can borrow,” Cook said. “And so to invest in the United States, we have to borrow. This doesn’t make sense on a broad basis, and so I think the administration you saw that they’re really getting this, and want to bring this back. And I hope that that comes to pass.”
But for the current four employees in North Dakota, the nature of their employment is not quite as politically charged. The four are what Apple calls “at-home advisors” for its AppleCare extended warranty and tech support service. They are employees who work at home and field calls from Apple customers with their questions on their products, whether that’s setting up a new iPhone or figuring out a software bug on an iMac. And these employees are probably closer to any Apple customers in North Dakota than any Apple store: The closest one to North Dakota’s largest city, Fargo (which happens to sit on its eastern border), is over 230 miles away in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Here’s a breakdown of where all of Apple’s employees are based.