WASHINGTON — Apparel employment, which has been on the decline for three decades, reached a milestone in April, dropping below 500,000 for the first time on record, according to the Labor Department’s employment report released Friday.

Last month alone, apparel manufacturers slashed 7,000 seasonally adjusted jobs from payrolls to employ 495,000 workers. Compared with April 2002, the apparel sector lost 28,000 workers. The government started keeping such job statistics in 1939, when there were 930,000 apparel jobs.

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