EDGE Fast Fact – 85% Workforce Loss in U.S. Apparel Manufacturing

Did you know as late as 1990, the United States apparel manufacturing industry employed nearly 939,000 people?

In 1931, the Garment District in New York was home to the highest concentration of clothing manufacturers in the world.  But as manufacturing has moved overseas the sector has since lost more than 85 percent of its workforce and it employs 143,000 people as of May 2014.

Source:  The New Economy of Fashion report – Joint Economic Committee – United States Congress

Business of Fashion reports in the 1960s, more than 95 percent of apparel bought in the US was made in the US. But increased free trade with China, starting in the 1980s, pushed that number down significantly. By 1993, just over half of the garments sold here were made here. In 2015, 97 percent of clothes sold in the US were imported, not just from China, but also from other offshore manufacturing centers like Bangladesh, Vietnam, India and Indonesia, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), a Washington, DC-based trade organization.

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