The Status Of The Present-A Very Good Year!It was a very good year – 1986. Mill shipments increased
4%. Exports were up 20% to $1.7 billion, but imports were up 17% to $4.3 billion, a textile trade
deficit up 15% in 1986.The multi-fiber agreement (MFA) was renewed for five years, with new
provisions covering products made of fibers previously not subject to the agreement, such as ramie
and silk blends. The U.S. also renegotiated bilateral agreements with Hong, Kong, Taiwan and South
Korea to include limits on these newly covered fibers and to restrain growth.Nevertheless, the
industry had learned not to depend for help on political promises. The Textile and Apparel Trade
Act of 2987 was introduced in the House and Senate on February 19, and prospects were better than
in 1986 that passage would result, with enough backing possible to override a veto.Investment Hits
$1.7 billionIndustry spending on new plant and equipment had averaged $1.7 billion a year in the
1980-85 period, but this had resulted in very little expansion of total productive capacity because
of plant closings. Use of existing capacity rose substantially in 1986 and the early months of
1987.The population grows ever more urban, and city folks spend far more on clothing than do
farmers.The per capita consumption of fiber ranges 53-59 pounds per year for the U.S., but in the
1960s, was 20 pounds less. World per capita consumption has climbed from 10.9 pounds in 1960 to the
15-pound range. The opportunity for increase is obvious.Labor SlidesThe numbers and influence of
most labor unions have been slipping. There was a surge of union organizing just after World War I,
and after World War II.For the textile and apparel industries there is a greater degree of union
membership, but that membership is overwhelmingly concentrated in the clothing industry not in the
textile mills. Declining Mill NumbersThe Census of Manufacturing data show how the number of
textile mills shrank in one 15-year period:
- 1967 7,080 operating establishments
- 1972 7,203
- 1977 7,202
- 1982 6,630
The closed mills were scattered far and wide in the Southeast, for the most part, not as
concentrated as those abandoned in New England towns and cities in the last massive movement to the
South.The visual impact of imports devastating effect on the textile/apparel industries is perhaps
greatest in the New York garment district, those 17 square blocks of midtown Manhattan that are
home to some 12,000 businesses. From 1969 to 1980, manufacturing jobs in the garment district fell
from 40,000 to 25,000. Imports of clothing soared from 21% of total U.S. sales in 1973 to 55% in
1983.Imported Machinery SagaImports of textile machinery began to be significant in 1964, and
thereafter accelerated rapidly, so that by 1968, they surpassed the exports of U.S.-made
machinery.Education For AllThe education of the textile work force still leaves much to be desired
vis-a-vis todays complex machinery, but is light years beyond the standard of 100 years ago when
the entire country produced in one year fewer than 62,000 high school graduates.The young have
completed more years in the classroom, though some will dispute that years in school equal
educational attainment.Census Bureau data as of March, 1984 show these differences in age groups as
to years of school completed.Despite the lack of substantial enrollment in the textile colleges,
the instruction has moved on to seminars and workshops for those working in the mills and needing
to keep abreast of rapidly advancing technology.Take Clemson as an example. Theres scarcely a week
without a conference or workshop. Among those scheduled for the early months of 1987:
- color science workshop, with such subjects as correcting color in the laboratory and in
production, color instrumentation, color matching and shade sorting.
- advanced textile materials; the latest directions for carbon, ceramics, aramid, graphite, steel
and glass fibers and high performance composites.
- just-in-time and quick response in textile manufacturing; value-added manufacturing, bar
coding, strategic response, short lot dyeing, the retailers view, textile/apparel linkage.
- current technology in spinning and yarn preparation; air jet spinning, friction spinning, wrap
spinning, machine conversions, etc.
- carpet manufacturing technology; market and styling forecast, yarns, backing, jet printing of
tiles and other carpet materials, fluoro-chemical finishes.
- improved textile profits through machine productivity analysis.
- statistical quality control.
- electronics in textiles; manufacturing automation protocol; robotics and vision in textile
manufacturing, computer applications: MAP, bar coding and bi-directional communications, monitoring
and control, dyeing and finishing.
- polyurethane technology the past and the future.
- novelty, specialty and effect yarns; wrap spinning, air-jet texturing, flocked yarns, novelty
yarn machines, loop and other special effects, slub, nub, novelty effects, glass texturing novelty
twisting and winding.
- developments in filtration technology.
- yarm-making systems, the present and the future.
- twisting and winding, new technologies and processes.
- drawing, combing, lapping and roving, new developments for long and short staple fibers.
- the natural and man-made fiber forum.
- new technologies in shuttleless weaving.