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Textiles Industry
The U.S. textiles and apparel industry is a globally competitive manufacturer of textile raw materials, yarns, fabrics, apparel, home furnishings, and other textile finished products.

SelectUSA Textiles Industry

Industry Overview

The U.S. textile and apparel industry is one of the most significant sectors of the manufacturing industry with 286,300 jobs as of September 2020, and the United States ranks among the top markets in the world by export value at $23 billion in 2019, and the market for garments in the United States was $311 billion in 2019. In recent years, companies have focused on reorienting their businesses, finding more effective work processes, investing in niche products and markets, controlling costs through advanced technologies, and reshoring/nearshoring production.

To find U.S. companies across the textile and apparel industry supply chain, visit the Made in USA Database.

Industry Subsectors

Almost $1.8 billion was invested into the U.S. textile mill industry from around the world in 2019, and foreign-owned businesses employed 10 percent of workers in the textile mill industry out of a total employment of 110,500 workers at the end of 2018. The most recent employment figures for the textile mill industry indicate there were 96,400 employees at the end of 2020. As of 2017 there were 1,993 establishments in the textile mill industry.

The three most common occupations in the textile mill industry are:

  • Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders;
  • Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders; and
  • Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders.

As of 2019, there were18,670 textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders in the textile mill industry, and the average annual wage for these workers was $29,560. There were also 14,170 textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders in the textile mill industry in 2019, earning the average annual wage of $31,850. For textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders, there were 6,560 employees in 2019 earning an average annual wage of $30,290.

Industry Spotlight

Yarn (Staple and Filament): Yarn manufacturing is an essential step that enables fibers to be made into fabric by weaving, knitting, or other fabric-forming methods. Due to competitive energy costs, a productive workforce, and the United States’ location in the Western Hemisphere, the yarn subsector is strong and globally competitive. In 2018, U.S. exports of yarn totaled nearly $4.5 billion, of which 60 percent went to nations in North and Central America. 

Nonwovens: The end-use markets for nonwovens are classified as either disposable or durables. Disposables are made up of product categories such as absorbent hygiene, wipes, filtration, medical and surgical, and protective apparel, while durables are comprised of geosynthetics, home and office furnishings, transportation, and building construction. Nonwovens are being used to make products lighter, more efficient, and cost-effective. More and more of these lighter and longer-lasting nonwovens are being introduced into a wide variety of fields. 
 
Specialty and Industrial Fabrics: Specialty and industrial fabrics serve an array of markets, from awnings to automotive airbags. As the U.S. specialty fabric business has continued to grow, some areas are seeing rapid advancement. Automotive textiles represent the most valuable market for industrial textiles in the world. These materials cover a broad range of applications including upholstery and seating, floor covering and trunk liners, as well as safety belts, airbags, thermal and sound insulators, filters, hoses, tires, and a variety of textile-reinforced flexible and hard composites. 

Employment by foreign-owned businesses in the textile product mills industry was 3 percent of the total employment in the industry in 2018, and the latest total employment data for the textile product mills industry indicates 104,500 employed at the end of 2020. As of 2017, there were 5,701 establishments in the textile product mills industry in the United States.

The three most common occupations in the textile product mills industry are: 

  • Sewing machine operators;
  • Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders; and
  • First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers.

There were 29,370 people employed as sewing machine operators in the textile product mills industry in 2019, and these workers earned an average annual wage of $28,070. For textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders in the textile product mills industry, there were 9,110 people employed in 2019 earning an average annual wage of $31,150. First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers in the textile product mills industry made an average annual wage of $54,630 in 2019, and there were 4,550 people employed in this occupation in the textile product mills industry in the same year.

Industry Spotlight

Medical Textiles: Medical textiles are one of the most important, continuously expanding, and growing fields in technical textiles. The medical textile industry has been improving existing products and creating new ones with new materials and innovative designs. Some of these new products are being designed for less invasive surgical procedures, infection control, and accelerated healing. 

In 2019, $636 million was invested into the apparel manufacturing industry from around the world. Foreign-owned businesses employed 4,200 workers in 2018, representing 3.8 percent of the 115,500 employees in the apparel manufacturing industry at the end of 2018. According to the latest employment figures, there were 90,900 employees in the apparel manufacturing industry at the end of 2020. As of 2017, there were 5,752 establishments in the apparel manufacturing industry.

The three most common occupations for the apparel manufacturing industry are: 

  • Sewing machine operators;
  • First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers; and
  • Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers.

The apparel manufacturing industry employed 42,090 sewing machine operators in 2019, and these workers earned an average annual wage of $26,610. The industry also employed 3,560 first-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers in 2019, earning an average annual wage of $51,310. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers in the apparel manufacturing industry earned an average annual wage of $31,280 in 2019, and the industry employed 3,290 people in this occupation.

Industry Spotlight

Protective Apparel: The global industrial protective apparel market was estimated at $9 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent between 2019 and 2025. The United States has a large and growing presence in this subsector as the demand for protective apparel is expected to grow thanks to safety standards in the manufacturing, chemical, oil and gas, and construction sectors. 

Fashion Apparel: The U.S. fashion apparel market is projected to reach nearly $400 billion by 2025. The industry is represented by manufacturers, contractors, brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers. The fashion apparel industry keeps pace with global market changes by continually adapting to customer trends and new technology.

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Additional Information

Explore the impact of foreign direct investment on U.S. jobs, exports, and innovation in the textiles industry.

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Investor Guide

The Investor Guide is a high-level view of everything from taxes to immigration and workforce to business structures.

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SelectUSA Stats

SelectUSA has created several dashboards to help analyze key FDI data from a variety of sources.

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Industry Associations
A comprehensive list of associations in the textiles industry.
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Incentives
Browse this state incentives database developed by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).
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