WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel declined 0.1 percent in February compared with January and fell 0.2 percent compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday in its Producer Price Index.
Women’s apparel prices rose 0.1 percent in February compared with a month earlier, but declined 0.4 percent year-over-year. Men’s apparel prices fell 0.8 percent in February and were down 0.2 percent in 12-month comparisons.
Prices for all U.S. goods and services declined a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in February, driven primarily by falling energy prices.
“Top-level producer prices are being bumped up and down month-to-month by fluctuations in imported crude oil prices,” said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight.
Prices for core finished goods were flat in February and there are no signs of inflationary pressures, he said.
The PPI for apparel is not a true indicator of industry price fluctuations because the vast majority of clothing sold in the U.S. is imported. The Consumer Price Index, due out today, is a more accurate measure because it includes all goods sold at retail.
Domestic prices for women’s knit shirts and blouses rose 0.7 percent in February compared with January, but fell 2.7 percent from a year earlier. Women’s woven shirts and blouse prices increased 0.1 percent in February, while declining 0.8 percent year-over-year. Prices for dresses were flat month-to-month and decreased 0.3 percent in 12-month comparisons. Women’s tailored jacket and vest prices dropped 0.2 percent in February and 0.1 percent from a year earlier. Prices for women’s jeans and slacks were up 0.1 percent month-to-month and 0.2 percent year-over-year.
Men’s work clothing prices declined 4.8 percent in February and 1.9 percent compared with a year earlier. Prices for men’s knit shirts rose 0.4 percent month-to-month, but fell 0.7 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices for men’s suits rose 0.6 percent in February and 1.3 percent year-over-year.
Prices for U.S.-made apparel fabric increased 0.5 percent in February, but declined 0.1 percent from a year earlier. Goods manufactured at textile product mills, primarily home furnishings and industrial fabrics, rose 1.4 percent for the month and 3.2 percent for the year.
Deeper in the pipeline, February synthetic fiber prices dropped 1 percent in both monthly and yearly comparisons. Yarn prices fell 0.1 percent in February, but were up 3.2 percent from a year earlier. Prices for greige fabric increased 1 percent for the month and 0.3 percent for the year. Finished fabric prices rose 0.6 percent in February, but declined 0.4 percent year-over-year.
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