The Collapse Of US Manufacturing Is Centered On One Sector

american apparelAmerican Apparel is the exception that proves the rule

Photo: American Apparel

Brookings has a big report out today about the decline of US manufacturing.Job loss has been unbelievably bad in one sector: clothes.

Jobs at textile mills declined 63 per cent from 2001 to 2009; apparel jobs declined 61 per cent; and leather jobs declined 51 per cent.

Even iconic brands like Levi Jeans aren’t made in America anymore.

American Apparel only gets away with US manufacturing thanks to premium branding and cheap immigrant labour.

Brookings comments on the trend:

The industries that lost the highest percentages of jobs were textile mills, apparel, leather and allied products, and furniture. These were also among the lowest-wage industries and all had value per ton well above the all-manufacturing average (meaning that their products were relatively light-weight in relation to their value, so that shipping costs were relatively low). The industries that lost the lowest percentages of their jobs were petroleum and coal products, food, beverage and tobacco products, and chemicals. Petroleum and coal products and chemicals were among the three highest-wage industries, and petroleum and coal products had very low value per ton. Both food and beverage and tobacco products had relatively low value per ton, and beverages and tobacco products paid wages somewhat above the manufacturing average. Computers and electronics, the second highest-wage industry, also had the highest value per ton (indicating low shipping costs) and had relatively large job losses.


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