Apple, under increased criticism for its international labor practices, released a commissioned study claiming that the company has helped create 514,000 jobs in the U.S. economy.

It was an unusual announcement from the technology giant, which has abstained from political debates around jobs creation. Unlike Google, Dell, Intel, Facebook and other high-tech firms, Apple does not have executives advising the Obama administration on how to create jobs, and it has not touted its own contributions to the economy.

But Apple, the most successful company on the stock market, has been criticized for outsourcing jobs to China and alleged human rights abuses of Chinese workers who produce the iPhone and iPad.

The jobs statistic, which includes direct and indirect jobs, comes out of a study from the Analysis Group, which was commissioned by the technology giant. How did the research firm arrive at that staggering number?

According to Apple, the job figures include not only the 47,000 people that the company employs directly, but also the estimated 257,000 jobs people employed by component makers, and others including FedEx and UPS employees.

To calculate Apple’s impact, the Analysis Group used a “Type 1 multiplier” developed by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Their study found that Apple has directly or indirectly created 304,000 jobs, and another study from analysis firm TechNet found that the app economy for the iOS platform has created 210,000 jobs. Apple said that it has paid $4 billion to developers from App Store sales.

On its Web site, the company also touted the fact that its call centers are in the United States, despite the fact that it would “reduce our costs by 50 percent or more” to have them elsewhere.

Apple has been under strict scrutiny lately for labor practices at its supply chain in China, where the company manufactures the vast majority of its products. Since media reports on the conditions at suppliers such as Foxconn caught the public’s attention, Apple has taken pains to address the negative press by publicly stating that it cares about each employee in its supply chain.

Apple also recently joined the Fair Labor Association, an independent group that conducts audits of facilities in Apple’s supply chain. The group will publicly post the results of factory audits, which are paid for by Apple, in the coming months.

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