In 2001, the textile industry lost 67,000 United States workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment is expected to decline quickly due to technological advancements and imports of apparel and textiles from countries that pay their workers lower wages. Although the textile industry is becoming less attractive as a labor source, it still exists in the United States. To remain competitive against other countries, this industry must remain labor efficient.

Technological Advancements

Manufacturers can remain competitive in the textile industry by responding to recent technological developments and advancements. Advanced machinery is helping to increase productivity levels and to change the way that employees work. Computer-aided equipment provides functions in design, patternmaking and cutting. This equipment makes work easier to do and less time-consuming. New innovations have also provided employees with technological training, which gives them an edge in their careers. Other emerging technological trends in the textile industry include nanotechnology, wider looms, computerized equipment and the use of robots to move textiles within the plants.

Environmental and Economic Challenges

Both environmental and economic challenges have destroyed industries in developing countries. Most of the washing procedures for textiles are harmful to our environment. Textile industries use certain dyes and materials when constructing clothing, rugs and other kinds of textiles. These chemicals can be hazardous to the health of humans and animals, especially when a factory’s chimney breathes them out or when people drop the chemicals into lakes, streams, oceans or rivers.

An economical challenge is that the industry cannot keep up with the changes and demands for apparel. Fashions change constantly, and it is the responsibility of textile manufacturers to respond to these changes by creating new ideas and incorporating the use of technological advancements. Foreign competitors that do not have the resources for these advancements may not be able to react to these changes quickly.

Apparel Industry Laws

Some apparel industry laws benefit the textile industry and help keep companies in business, especially in the United States. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Armed Services require their uniforms to be produced in the United States only. This law recently changed to also include uniforms worn by Transportation Security Administration officers. Even though this demand outweighs a large consumer market, it will continue to bring jobs for those in the textile industry and other intensive labor segments.

Common Misconceptions

One common misconception people have about the textile industry is that there is no hope for its recovery. There is an inaccurate perception that developed countries have ruined the industry by offering jobs to individuals for little to no pay. The textile industry can rebuild itself by using technological advancements to solve their current problems. These industries can also focus on certain sectors of the fashion industry, such as western and urban clothing, which are always booming.