In addition to being supported by AAFA, the “Imports Work for America” study was also sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Most Americans don’t realize it takes more than four million U.S. workers to help them get dressed each day,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “This new study by the Trade Partnership is a valuable study that will help us educate policy makers and the public about the positive impact of imports for U.S. jobs and our economy.”
Imports Work for U.S. Jobs
In 2012, Americans purchased nearly 20 billion garments and more than two billion pairs of shoes. More than 98 percent of those shoes and 97 percent of those clothes were produced internationally and imported into the United States. Those imports support more than four million U.S. apparel and footwear industry jobs.
These four million import-dependent jobs include industry executives, textile mill workers, sourcing managers, corporate social responsibility and compliance professionals, wholesalers, retail floor associates, technical designers, and marketing professionals, and more.
The industry also supports countless other U.S. industries, like the more than 37,000 transportation jobs it requires to move products from the port to the sales floor and the 235,000 dry cleaning jobs required to maintain and protect the industry’s quality product.
Imports Work for American Families
Because of imports, American families continue to spend even less of their family budgets on apparel and footwear but get even more. When examining Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor, American families spent only 2.6 percent of their annual income on clothes and shoes in 2012.
This number represents a significant drop over the last decade. In fact, in 1999, apparel alone accounted for 3.5 percent of an average family’s annual spending. Despite families committing less of their family budgets to apparel and footwear purchases, consumption continues to climb and the U.S. apparel and footwear employment grew more than three percent over last year.
Imports and U.S. Trade Policy
“With more empirical evidence available now than ever before, it is getting harder for policy makers to shy away from a robust and open discussion about the positive role of imports in our daily lives,” said Burke.
“We look forward to continuing the dialogue as the U.S. apparel and footwear industry’s primary voice in Washington in pursuit of a comprehensive trade agenda that creates jobs from both exports and imports, promotes corporate social responsibility around the world, and eliminates barriers that negatively impact workers and consumers alike.”
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