Go look through your closet. Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia… it’s getting harder and harder to find clothing with “Made in America” labels. Blame cheaper offshore labor. Between 2005 and 2011, employment in the U.S. textile and apparel industry fell by 40 percent. 643,601 workers dwindled to just 388,864. 565 U.S. textile mills were shuttered.
Apparel imports 2005-2011 grew from 73 percent to nearly 88 percent of the U.S. market.
International trade agreements opened up markets across the globe. Most countries can manufacture clothing more cheaply than the U.S. Average hourly compensation in the U.S. in 2010 was $34.74 per hour. In China: $1.06 per hour.
Check out our video for more on the decline of the U.S. textile and apparel industry. See “What Do Others Say?” for more perspective, then add to the discussion below. Can America compete on a global scale? Is the “Made in America” label destined for obsolescence?