Over the last hundred years, the clothing manufacturing industry in the United States has gradually dwindled away, with the work outsourced to overseas sweatshops, characterized by long hours and low wages. It’s another consequence of a global economy.
Many mainstream economic theorists argue that overseas sweatshops represent a “win-win,” domestically and overseas. They contend that the sweatshops pay higher wages than other jobs in the poor countries in which they operate. In addition, lower clothing prices offset the loss of domestic manufacturing jobs.
The off-shoring of the apparel industry has cost thousands of clothing production jobs in the United States. These jobs mainly employed low-skilled workers, especially women with few skills.
In a 2002 book on the globalization of the clothing industry, author Ellen Israel Rosen contends that domestic workers have not benefited from textile jobs moving overseas.
Because of their low skills, many of the women displaced by the outsourcing of clothing production to overseas sweatshops do not find better jobs, according to Rosen.
Many former domestic clothing manufacturing workers have found themselves working as clerks and stockers at discount retailers--ironically, often selling the clothes they themselves used to produce.