Employment in apparel manufacturing decreased 85 percent over last 25 years

February 01, 2017

Manufacturing is the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products. Over the last 25 years, the number of jobs in manufacturing decreased 28 percent, from an average of 17.1 million in 1991 to 12.3 million in 2016. During the 5-year period from 2011 to 2016, manufacturing jobs increased 4.8 percent, from 11.7 million to 12.3 million.

Percent change in employment for manufacturing industries, not seasonally adjusted, 1991–2016
Industry 25 year(p) 20 year(p) 15 year(p) 10 year(p) 5 year(p)

Total manufacturing

-28.0% -28.7% -25.3% -13.2% 4.8%

Wood products

-23.4 -34.5 -33.5 -31.6 13.7

Nonmetallic mineral products

-18.7 -22.3 -26.2 -21.1 9.7

Primary metals

-42.8 -41.2 -34.2 -19.1 -3.3

Fabricated metal

-7.4 -13.4 -14.9 -8.1 5.9

Machinery

-19.6 -26.3 -21.0 -8.5 2.6

Computer and electronic products

-42.6 -40.5 -40.6 -20.6 -5.9

Electrical equipment and appliances

-35.8 -35.1 -31.1 -11.3 4.8

Transportation equipment

-20.8 -18.6 -17.1 -9.1 16.4

Furniture and related products

-30.8 -35.7 -39.6 -30.4 10.0

Misc. durable goods manufacturing

-12.2 -15.8 -15.6 -7.0 4.3

Food manufacturing

1.0 -2.1 -1.4 3.4 4.9

Textile mills

-76.4 -74.5 -66.0 -42.0 -5.8

Textile prroduct mills

-48.5 -51.1 -46.5 -30.4 -1.4

Apparel

-84.9 -81.7 -68.1 -43.1 -12.8

Paper and paper products

-41.9 -41.3 -35.8 -21.2 -4.3

Printing and related support activities

-44.2 -45.8 -42.4 -30.3 -6.2

Petroleum and coal products

-25.6 -16.1 -4.9 1.8 3.0

Chemicals

-20.1 -16.8 -14.6 -5.5 4.5

Plastics and rubber products

-13.9 -24.8 -22.9 -12.1 8.7

Misc. nondurable goods manufacturing

-20.3 -9.5 1.3 17.1 25.4
Footnotes:

(p) = preliminary.

From 2011 to 2016, most manufacturing industries experienced a gain in employment. Over that period, those industries with an increase in employment equal to or greater than 10 percent were miscellaneous nondurable goods (25.4 percent), transportation equipment (16.4 percent), wood products (13.7 percent), and furniture and related products (10.0 percent).

Among those manufacturing industries with a decrease in employment from 2011 to 2016, apparel had the largest decrease (12.8 percent) and was the only manufacturing industry with a decrease greater than 10 percent. Over the last 25 years, apparel had the largest decrease among all manufacturing industries with a decrease of 85 percent. Over that period, employment in textile mills decreased 76 percent.

These data are from the Current Employment Statistics program and are not seasonally adjusted. Data for 2016 are preliminary. 

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Employment in apparel manufacturing decreased 85 percent over last 25 years on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/employment-in-apparel-manufacturing-decreased-85-percent-over-last-25-years.htm (visited March 22, 2019).

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