WASHINGTON — Employment in the domestic textile and apparel industries in August continued to decline, as the rate of job loss also continued to be tempered, the Labor Department reported Friday.Textile mills lost 1,000 jobs in August against July to employ 428,000 workers on a seasonally adjusted basis. Compared with August 2001, textile employment last month was off by 41,000.Domestic apparel makers cut 2,000 jobs last month to employ 524,000, 31,000 below year-ago levels.Carl Priestland, an apparel industry consultant, said a falloff in import growth this year has helped to stabilize domestic apparel and textile employment. "Further significant erosion is not going to occur unless you see a fairly substantial jump in imports," he said.The nation’s unemployment rate in August declined slightly to 5.7 percent, after being 5.9 percent for the two previous months. Employment gains were seen in construction, government and the service sectors. However, cuts occurred in several manufacturing sectors and retail.Department stores in August trimmed payrolls by 41,000 workers to employ 2.5 million, which is 63,000 below August 2001. General merchandise stores, including mass merchants, also lost 41,000 workers for the month. The sector now employs 2.8 million, which is 57,000 below year-ago payrolls.Apparel and accessory stores joined food stores as one of two retail sectors to add workers in August. Apparel and accessory stores hired 3,000 last month to employ 1.2 million workers, which is 16,000 below August 2001.

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