Byline: Joanna Ramey

WASHINGTON — The domestic apparel industry continued to shed jobs in October, employing a seasonally adjusted 5,000 fewer people than in September. At the same time, the textile industry continued to stabilize by adding 1,000 workers during the month, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Last month, the apparel industry employed 831,000 workers, 70,000 fewer than the year before. The textile industry in October employed 632,000 workers, 23,000 fewer than in October 1995.
Donald Ratajcak, director of the Georgia State University Economic Forecasting Center, said the apparel industry continues to be battered by imports, in addition to the ongoing restructuring within the industry that has spurred U.S. apparel makers to produce entirely, or partially, offshore.
Another factor has been the stronger dollar, which Ratajcak said has been an incentive for more foreign sourcing and manufacturing.
Exmployment in the textile industry has stabilized since June, largely due to an uptick in carpet orders tied to an increase in home construction. Exports in all textile categories, particularly those to Mexico, have picked up considerably, said Dave Link, chief economist at the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.
The textile industry’s work week, which has hovered around 40 hours for the last five months, was 40.8 hours in October. That is just above the year-ago week of 40.4 hours.
The average apparel work week in October was 37.2 hours, down from September’s 37.4.
Carl Priestland, economist with the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, said despite the industry’s dwindling numbers, there was good news in Labor’s employment report: The unemployment rate remained unchanged in October at 5.2 percent, with the economy generating 210,000 jobs.
“If unemployment remains low, then consumer spending should stay in good shape,” he said.
Employment in apparel and accessories stores in October declined a seasonally adjusted 2,000 jobs from September to 1.09 million. Compared with October 1995, jobs in apparel and accessories stores last month were down 12,000. Department store employment for the month was up by 17,000 jobs to 2.43 million, and over the year was up 56,000.