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Textile Economy Showing Some Signs Of Recovery

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

While the overall U.S. economic recovery continues to founder, there are some positive economic developments in the textile industry. Federal Reserve data show that production and shipments are up, and employment seems to be stabilizing.

The latest Federal Reserve data show that production in the textile product category that includes yarn, fabric and finished goods is up by 6.6 percent from a year ago, and production of textile products such as sheets, towels and other finished goods is up 1.4 percent. In addition, the value of textile shipments of yarn, fabric and finished goods year-to-date in June were up by 13.2 percent.

At the same time, employment in textile mills has stabilized at around 123,000 -- up by 1,000 jobs from last December.

The data show that overall capacity is down from a year ago, which means textile companies are doing more with less as a result of productivity growth and new and modern equipment.

Meanwhile, the textile and apparel trade deficit continues to be a problem, as it amounted to $37 million in June, an increase of 9 percent over June 2009. The gap was particularly wide with respect to fabrics, for which it was up by 37 percent. Trade with China accounted for slightly less than half of the deficit.

August 31, 2010