Textile manufacturing is one of many industries negatively affected by increased competition from the decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector, particularly from the competition of foreign cotton importers.
Employment at textile and fabric finishing mills fell by 44.4% from 2007 to 2016, more than most other industries in the country.
According to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. textile industry (NAICS 313 and 314) and apparel industry (NAICS 315) respectively lost another 4,100 and 10,100 jobs in 2017. Between January 2005 and December 2017, 44.2% and 56.3% of jobs in the U.S. textile and apparel sectors were gone.
The US textile industry invested $18.5 billion in new plants and equipment from 2005 to 2014. New fiber, yarn, and recycling facilities are most likely to convert textile and other waste to new uses and resins.
Total capital expenditures in plants and equipment for the textile and textile product sectors increased by 36 percent in the 2013–16 period, rising from $1.6 billion in 2013 to $2.1 billion in 2016.
Investment in textile mills, products, and factories in the USA has seen especially explosive growth, climbing from $960 million in 2009 to $1.8 billion in 2014, an increase of 87 percent.
Textile mills and factories in the USA increased production by 23% between 2004 and 2014, making textiles one of the top industrial sectors for productivity growth in the country.
U.S. exports of fiber, yarns, fabrics, made-ups, and apparel were $28.6 billion in 2017. This is nearly a nine percent increase in export performance over 2016. Shipments to NAFTA and CAFTA-DR (Central America and Dominican Republic) countries accounted for 54 percent of all U.S. textile supply chain exports.
The United States is especially well-positioned globally in fiber, yarn, fabric, and non-apparel sewn products markets; it was the world’s 4th largest individual country exporter in the world behind China, India, and Germany of those products in 2016.
The US is the world leader in textile research and development. The U.S. textile complex is developing next-generation materials; such as conductive fabric with antistatic properties; electronic textiles that can monitor heart rate and other vital signs; antimicrobial fibers; lifesaving body armor; and new fabrics that adapt to the climate to make the wearer warmer or cooler.
Investing in machinery that operates more efficiently, the U.S. textile industry has worked to minimize labor costs. Wages are significantly higher in the United States than in many textile-producing countries, although automation in the industry has helped level the playing field.
Among the total of 2.8 million workers directly and indirectly employed by the US textile and apparel industry, only 5% are in the apparel-manufacturing sector. 5% works in the wholesaling, and up to 90% are working for retailers.
A key factor is that the US textile industry supplies more than 8,000 different textile products to the U.S. military.
Over 70% of US textile exports went to Western Hemisphere free trade partners in 2015.
America’s most important trading relationship is USMCA (NAFTA), a pillar upon which the U.S.-Western Hemisphere textile supply chain is built. At almost $12 billion combined, Mexico and Canada are the U.S. textile industry’s largest export markets. Moreover, Mexico provides vital garment assembly capacity the United States lacks at this time.
Although US apparel production is increasing, nearly 98% of apparel purchased in the US is imported. China remains the largest apparel supplier in the US, accounting for almost half of the imports in terms of quantity and 39.1% in terms of value.
However, apparel Imports from Vietnam to the US have increased at a faster rate than any other country.