ATMI says '01 sales hit 13-year low

Don Hogsett, January 21, 2002

Hobbled by a widespread recession, weak consumer spending and a persistently high level of imports, a battered American textiles and apparel industry limped into the new millennium last year, its overall sales dropping off by almost 7 percent in a fifth straight year of declines.

The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), the industry's largest trade association, reported in a year-end wrap-up that 2001 sales for the textiles and apparel industry fell by 6.7 percent, to $53.9 billion from $57.8 billion last year — a drop of almost $4 billion. It was the industry's lowest level of sales in 13 years.

In an even steeper drop, textile mill shipments declined by 11.9 percent, to $46.8 billion from $53.1 billion, a sixth straight year of decline since peaking in 1995.

Sounding a clear alarm as he surveyed the diminishing American industry, ATMI president Charles Hayes, chairman of Guilford Mills, called for a federal stimulus package that would include a longer tax-loss carryback period, providing some financial relief to money-losing producers.

And in a call shouted so long that the industry's voice is growing hoarse, he once again asked the federal government to act rapidly to "force other countries to open their markets to our exports, rather than reduce U.S. tariffs." He also asked that cotton-consuming U.S. producers be allowed to buy cotton at world prices, rather than the higher price of U.S. cotton.

In a depressing litany, the ATMI ticked off the benchmarks for 2001 — lower sales, lower shipments, a sharp drop in jobs, an even sharper drop in hours worked, and a drop in exports.

Textile industry employment continued its long decline last year, and the rate of decline only steeped, with employment dropping by 9.8 percent, to 476,000 from 528,000 last year — a daunting loss of 52,000 jobs. That was far worse than the 3.8 percent job loss recorded for all of U.S. manufacturing. And the index of hours worked (1982=100) fell even further, by 12.2 percent, to a reading of 66.4 from 75.6 in 2000. Once again, far worse than the 7.1 percent decline registered for all of U.S. manufacturing.

The average hourly wage rose just 1.6 percent, to $11.34 from $11.16 the year before. But with fewer hours worked, average weekly earnings actually fell 1.4 percent, to $453.68 from $459.98. The workweek in the U.S. textile industry was less than 40 hours during each month of the second half of the year, pulling the average workweek for the year down more than an hour from year-ago levels.

But the news wasn't entirely bleak. The broad textiles and apparel industry actually made a little money last year, recovering from its first-ever loss the prior year. The industry recorded a marginal profit of $300 million, recovering from a prior-year loss of $360 million. But even while back in the black, it was the industry's smallest profit in almost 40 years, since the early 1960s.

An industry still in turmoil
Textile industry benchmarks 2000-2001

2001 2000 % change
a-NAICS 313 fabric, yarn, finishing
( ): Denotes loss or decline
Source: American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI)
All 2001 data were estimated from latest year-to-date information supplied by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Shipmentsa ($billions) $46.8 $53.1 -11.9
Mill fiber consumption (billion pounds) 15.1 16.3 -7.4
Corporate sales ($billions) $53.9 $57.8 -6.7
After-tax profits ($billions) $0.30 ($0.36)
Earnings on sales (percentage of sales)
Textiles 0.5% (0.6%)
All U.S. manufacturing 1.3% 6.1% -78.7
Employment (annual average in 000s)
Textiles 476.0 528.0 -9.8
All U.S. manufacturing 17,760.0 18,470.0 -3.8
Hourly earnings (annual average $) $11.34 $11.16 1.6
Weekly earnings (annual average $) $453.68 $459.98 -1.4
Index of hours worked (1982=100)
Textiles 66.4 75.6 -12.2
All U.S. manufacturing 98.4 105.9 -7.1
Producer Price Index (1982=100)
Textiles 122.8 122.7 0.1
All commodities 134.8 132.7 1.6
Textiles & apparel imports ($millions customs) $79,648.0 $79,471.0 0.2
Textiles only $14,728.0 $15,175.0 -2.9
Textiles & apparel exports ($millions) $17,228.0 $18,713.0 -7.9
Textiles only $10,340.0 $10,540.0 -1.9
Textiles & apparel trade deficit ($millions) ($62,420.0) ($60,758.0) 2.7
Textiles only ($4,388.0) ($4,635.0) -5.3
Textiles & apparel imports (million sq. yards) 32,928.0 32,864.0 0.2
Textiles only 16,709.0 16,829.0 -0.7

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