By  on July 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-manufactured apparel decreased 0.2 percent in June compared with May and rose 1.3 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Women’s and girls’ domestic apparel prices declined 0.1 percent in June, but increased 1.7 percent in 12-month comparisons, according to the Producer Price Index. Men’s and boys’ apparel fell 0.4 percent month-to-month, but increased 1.9 percent year-over-year.

Prices for all U.S.-made goods increased 1.8 percent in June, driven mostly by a surge in gas prices. The advance in prices followed a rise of 0.2 percent in May and a climb of 0.3 percent in April.

Distortions of the numbers from gas prices and restructuring in the auto sector aside, the increases reported were mild and many categories saw declines in prices, said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight.

The PPI for apparel is not a true indicator of industry price fluctuations because of the relatively small number of manufacturers operating in the U.S. The Consumer Price Index, to be released today, is a more accurate measure because it indicates prices for all goods, including imports.

Domestic prices for women’s and girls’ knit shirts and blouses and dresses were flat in June compared with May, but increased 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, versus the same period a year earlier. Woven shirts and blouses rose 0.1 percent from the prior month and 1.2 percent from June 2008. Prices for tailored jackets and vests were flat in month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons. Jeans and slacks decreased 0.7 percent in June, but increased 0.4 percent in 12-month comparisons.

Wholesale prices for men’s and boys’ knit shirts, work clothing and suits were flat in June compared with May. In yearly comparisons, knit shirts increased 1.4 percent, work clothing gained 3.7 percent and suits were up 4.3 percent. Prices for woven shirts declined 1.4 percent in month-to-month comparisons and 1 percent year-over-year.

Apparel fabric, also known as textile mill goods, saw prices increase 0.2 percent in June and 0.6 percent compared with a year earlier. Textile product mill prices, which includes home furnishing and industrial fabrics, increased 0.4 percent month-to-month and 2.4 percent in 12-month comparisons.

Deeper in the pipeline, synthetic fiber prices rose 1.5 percent in June, but declined 3.7 percent year-over-year. Yarn prices increased 0.6 percent month-to-month, but fell 4.2 percent from a year earlier. Greige fabrics advanced 0.1 percent in June compared with May and rose 4.7 percent in 12-month comparisons. Finished fabric prices rose 0.1 percent in June and advanced 1.4 percent year-to-year.

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