Archive for the 'State of the US Textile and Apparel Industry' Category


State of the US Textile and Apparel Industry

U.S. Apparel Trade

If you really want to know the nuts and bolts about the apparel industry, this is your kind of article.

State of the U.S. Textile and Apparel Industry: Output and Trade (Updated March 2017)

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The size of the U.S. textile and apparel industry has significantly shrunk over the past decades. However, U.S. textile manufacturing is gradually coming back. Value added of U.S. textile manufacturing reached $17.98 billion in 2015, which was the highest level since 2009.

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Nevertheless, the share of U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped to only 0.16% in 2015 from 0.57% in 1998.

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The U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing is also changing in nature. For example, textiles had accounted for nearly 70% of the total output of the U.S. textile and apparel industry as of 2015, up from 58% in 1998. Meanwhile, clothing had only accounted for 12% of the total U.S. fiber production by 2012, suggesting non-apparel textile products, such as industrial textiles and home textiles have become more important part of the industry.

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Manufacturing jobs are NOT coming back to the U.S. textile and apparel industry. From January 2015 to December 2016, U.S. textile manufacturing (NAICS 313 and 314) and apparel manufacturing (NAICS 315) lost 8,300 and 9,200 jobs respectively. However, improved productivity is one important factor behind the job losses.

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U.S. remains a net textile exporter and a net apparel importer. However, the U.S. trade surplus in textiles significantly dropped to only $68 million in 2016 from $347 million a year earlier. More U.S.-made textiles are now exported than a decade ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit in apparel reached $81,754 million in 2016, which was slightly smaller than $86,311 million a year earlier.

Sheng Lu

Additional readings:  The Pattern of U.S. Textile and Apparel Imports

Discussion questions:

#1 Is the state of the U.S. textile and apparel industry consistent with the stage of development theory? Please specify your answer.

#2 Based on the statistics, do you think textile and apparel “Made in the USA” have a future? Please explain.

#3 Based on the statistics, what is the impact of trade on the development of the U.S. textile and apparel industry: positive, negative, mixed or you need more information (please specify) to evaluate?

#4 Overall, do you think the U.S. textile and apparel industry is in good shape? Why or why not?

Editorial Comment

This article is part of a course about the Global Apparel Industry given by Instructor: Dr. Sheng Lu, Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies, University of Delaware

About FASH455

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Study of economic, social and political dimensions of the textile & apparel sector in a global economy; implications for production, distribution and consumption of textile & apparel products in major world markets.


•FASH455 reading packet


Textiles and Apparel in the Global Economy(3rd ed) by Kitty Dickerson, Prentice-Hall (1999);

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy (2nd ed–released in December 2014) by P. Rivoli, Wiley;

Global Sourcing in the Textile and Apparel Industry (2nd ed) by Dr. Ha-Brookshire

Sewing Success? Employment, Wages, and Poverty following the End of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (2012) by Gladys Lopez-Acevedo and Raymond Robertson;    

Going Global: The Textile and Apparel Industry (3rd ed) by Grace Kunz and Elena Karpova


Upon completion of the course, the student will be able:

  1.  To comprehend the worldwide importance of the textile and apparel industry (including production, distribution, consumption, and trade) from economic, political and social dimensions;
  2.  To understand the composition, restructuring, major development trends and competitive status of the U.S. textile and apparel sectors and to consider the domestic complex within the context of a global economy;
  3. To understand the textile complex in major regions of the world, including their stages of development, functions in the global apparel value chain and key market conditions;
  4. To analyze the unique trade policies for textiles and apparel and understand how they affect various segments of the industry (including manufacturers, retailers and consumers) at multiple levels (including multilateral, regional and bilateral);
  5. To increase awareness of major cutting edge issues facing the world today and comprehend their potentials impacts on the future landscape of the textile and apparel sector;


The textile and apparel industry is a thick textbook study far beyond fiber, yarn, fabric and clothing.  It is THE industry that triggered the first Industrial Revolution, among those sectors that embraced globalization early and still plays a critical role in the global economy with cross-cutting economic, social and political influences in the 21st century.   Some key facts about this sector today:

  • Textiles and apparel remains one of the world’s largest and economically most influential industries in the 21st century. Globally, the market value of textiles, apparel and apparel retailing totaled $2,000 billion annually. In the United States, sales of apparel and accessories contributed $255 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015.
  • The textile and apparel industry plays a unique critical role in creating jobs, promoting economic development, enhancing human development and reducing poverty. Globally, over 120 Million people remain directly employed in the textile and apparel industries today, a good proportion of whom are females living in poor rural areas. Particularly, for most developing countries, the textile and apparel sector accounts for 60%–90% of their total merchandise exports and provides one of the very few opportunities for these countries to participate in globalization.
  • The textile and apparel industry remains strong presence in the United States in the 21st century, although the industry has been critically different from the past because of globalization and advancement of technologies. Across the supply chain, the U.S. textile and apparel industry directly employs more than 4 million people, who undertake positions ranging from textile mill workers, warehousing, sourcing managers, wholesalers, retail floor associates, merchandisers, buyers, technical designers, and marketing professionals, just to name a few. According to the World Trade Organization, the United States is still the fourth largest textile exporter in the world.  The U.S. textile and apparel exports in 2015 totaled nearly $23.7 billion dollars which destined more than 50 countries around the world. U.S. branded apparel also can be found in almost every corner of the world marketplace.
  • The textile and apparel industry might be the only sector other than agriculture that is so heavily regulated by trade policies. Because of its global presence and the complicated social, economic and political factors associated with the sector, textile and apparel industry actively involves in almost all critical bilateral, regional and multilateral trade policy debates nowadays. This is the case no matter for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), enforcing stricter labor & environmental standards, launching initiatives to open new overseas markets, renewing the, African Growth and Opportunity Act(AGOA), trade adjustment assistance (TAA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) or restricting imports in the protection of domestic textile manufacturing sector.

December 2019
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