Apple started a $1 billion fund to create advanced manufacturing jobs in the US

In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed today that the hardware titans have formed a new, $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

While President Donald Trump is certain to approve, the initiative was something that Apple began working on well before the presidential election. Apple has invested previously in U.S. hardware production with a Mac facility in Texas, as TechCrunch reported last year. In 2013, Apple released “Made in the USA” Mac Pros, which the company had touted before the U.S. Senate.

The announcement about the fund came just one day after Apple delivered a mixed quarterly earnings report. It didn’t deliver on projected iPhone and iPad sales, but recorded a rise in service revenue and improvements in sales in China, a market that has been historically challenging for American hardware companies.

During the interview, Cook said Apple will reveal its first investments from the fund later this month. It’s not clear what the exact nature of those investments will be yet, and how they will deliver returns back to the new fund or Apple.

The unemployment rate in computer and electronic manufacturing in the U.S. was relatively low, at 2.2 percent in December 2016, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the  number of people employed in this field has mostly been on the decline in the U.S. since 2007. Manufacturing, more broadly, employs some 9 percent of the U.S. workforce.

According to a Skills Gap study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers are facing a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions in their facilities.