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Why Trump and Sanders are bashing Apple

Democratic presidential candidate targets Apple Inc. for manufacturing Apple products in China.
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Democratic presidential candidate targets Apple Inc. for manufacturing Apple products in China.

Two presidential candidates have found a new favorite target in Silicon Valley: the maker of the iPhone.

Bernie Sanders is the latest to take on Apple, telling the editorial board of the Daily News: "I do wish they'd be manufacturing some of their devices, here, in the United States rather than in China."

Sanders isn't alone. On the other side of the political aisle, real estate mogul Donald Trump also criticized Apple for manufacturing products overseas.

"I'm going to get Apple to start making their computers and their iPhones on our land not in China," Trump said. "How does it help us when they make it in China?"



It's true that much of Apple's assembly line work is performed by partners outside the U.S., specifically in China. These are typically low-paying jobs requiring, for example, physically putting together different parts of iPhones and iPads.

Analysts point out that if Sanders and Trump succeeded in bringing back these jobs to the U.S., the decision would have an immediate impact for consumers and the company's financials.

"There are two ways this could go," said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy, a tech analyst firm. "The price could go up, or Apple could decrease profits."

"I don't see Apple decreasing profits any time soon nor would I expect their competitors to do that, who also manufacture most of their phones in China," Moorhead said.

Moorhead estimated that if the iPhone were fully assembled in the U.S., its price could surge 66 percent due to higher labor costs, from an average selling price of $691 to $1,150.

Just as important, while neither Sanders nor Trump mention it, Apple either employs — directly or indirectly — a lot of people in this country.

As of last year, Apple supported 1.9 million jobs in the United States. That includes over 1.4 million jobs for the app economy, 361,000 through its supply chain and 76,000 direct Apple employees.

Moorhead also noted that at facilities in Austin, Texas, American workers build everything from the company's high-end desktop — the Mac Pro — to the primary chip in iOS devices, the A9.