WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically produced women’s and girls’ apparel rose 0.6 percent in September, reflecting some stabilization in an uneven pricing picture, according to the Labor Department’s Producer Price Index released Friday.

Prices for all U.S.-made apparel increased 0.5 percent in September, but were down 0.5 percent compared with September 2003. Men’s and boys’ prices remained flat for the month.

U.S.-made textile and apparel prices have been falling for years because of import pressures. The Labor Department’s recent overhaul of the PPI does not provide year-over-year comparisons because many of the textile and apparel categories were reclassified.

“Manufacturers have very little pricing power,” said Carl Steidtmann, chief economist at Deloitte Research. “With China and the process of globalization, it will be a long time before we see pricing power in manufacturing.”

In the overall economy, producer prices increased 0.1 percent for all finished goods in September, as the prices for finished energy goods fell 0.9 percent and food prices rose 0.1 percent.

Among the categories of women’s and girls’ apparel cut and sewn in the U.S. and showing any price changes were misses’ and junior dresses, which fell 0.1 percent; misses’ and junior skirts, up 0.1 percent, and bras, up 2.7 percent. Wholesale prices for shirts and blouses, jeans and slacks, swimwear and underwear remained unchanged.

In another category based on apparel made in knitting mills, prices rose 1.4 percent. Prices for knit shirts, knit underwear and nightwear, tights and finished sheer hosiery remained flat in September.

— K.E.

This story first appeared in the October 18, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.