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NYT profiles Apple's retail stores, says employees are 'short on pay'

As part of its "iEconomy" stories profiling Apple, The New York Times has taken a closer look at the company's retail stores, stating that retail employees have "enjoyed little" of the company's great financial success.

Noting that about 30,000 of Apple's 43,000 employees in the U.S. work at the company's retail stores, the story published this weekend said many of Apple's retail workers earn about $25,000 per year, which it said is "average pay" according to "the standards of retailing." Apple's pay is well above the minimum wage of $7.25 that the Gap offers, but is also slightly less than yoga and athletic apparel chain Lululemon.

"But Apple is not selling polo shirts or yoga paints," author David Segal wrote. "Divide revenue by total number of employees and you find that last year, each Apple store employee — that includes non-sales staff like technicians and people stocking shelves — brought in $473,000."

Apple's per-employee sales are well beyond the average of $206,000 seen by other electronics and appliance stores. And yet people still want to work for Apple and the company has no shortage of applicants for retail jobs, as mostly young "true believers" are given a sense of working for the "greater good," as one anonymous former salesman told the Times.

The story includes comments from MacRumors reporter and ex-Apple retail store employee Jordan Golson, who said it was "tough" when he sold three-quarters of a million dollars worth of devices in a three-month span, but was earning just $11.25 per hour. He noted that in Christmas 2010, he and other employees were given gifts of a fleece blanket and insulated coffee thermos.

The report comes soon after Apple began informing some of its retail employees last week that they would be receiving significant pay raises of up to 25 percent. A recent internal review conducted by Apple reportedly found that pay was a major concern among employees, particularly as sales staff earn between $9 and $15 per hour, while Geniuses tend to make around $30 per hour.

Apple Store staff at the company Grand Central Terminal location in New York. | Source: Apple

Apple's new retail chief John Browett, who took residence at the Cupertino, Calif. company two months ago after leaving his position as CEO of UK electronics chain Dixons Retail PLC, is thought to be behind the alleged wage increases. In a video to Apple retail employees in shortly after his hire, Browett promised to push up employee performance reviews from the original September schedule.

Previous installments in the Times "iEconomy" series accused Apple of sidestepping taxes, and also profiled the "human costs" of assembly of Apple's devices in China. The series has included anonymous comments from former Apple executives who claimed that the company has known about "labor abuses" in supplier factories for years without requiring that they be addressed.

That story prompted Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook to lash out in an e-mail to employees, in which he said "any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive."

"We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues," Cook wrote. "What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word."