An estimated 1.2 million jobs could be lost to automation in the clothing industry in 2019 as the number of jobs in apparel manufacturing shrinks, a survey by the Associated Chambers of Commerce found.
The APC survey also found that the manufacturing of clothing could take a big hit if the federal government does not approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is the trade deal being negotiated between 11 Pacific Rim nations.
The trade deal has been delayed until January 2019 due to a labor dispute.
The new data from the APC is likely to worsen the already gloomy outlook for the sector, the organization said.
The organization’s research showed that the sector’s annual payrolls are expected to decline by more than 6,000 jobs by 2020, the worst decline in the past 15 years.
“The loss of jobs due to automation would impact both the companies and workers impacted by the disruption of production, and could significantly affect the overall health of the garment industry,” the organization warned in a statement.
“This is a serious blow to the textile sector and its economy.
It is imperative that Congress acts now to ensure that the TPP is implemented to protect American jobs.”
The new survey of apparel and footwear manufacturers found that there are fewer than 1,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States in 2019, down from 2,600 in 2016.
In the first half of 2018, there were 3,800 manufacturing jobs, down 13 percent from the same period in 2017.
And in the second half of the year, the manufacturing sector shrank by 3 percent, from 6,400 jobs in 2018 to 4,400 in 2019.
The data also shows that the employment of retail sales representatives is expected to fall by 4 percent, to 8,400, and the jobs of sales reps are expected drop by 2 percent, or 6,100 jobs.
And while retail sales reps make up the largest segment of the apparel industry, they represent less than 5 percent of the overall jobs in a retail industry that accounts for about 3 percent of overall employment in the country.
The overall jobs count includes all those who are employed in all sectors, including non-executive employees, temporary workers, and part-time employees.
And the employment data shows that manufacturing in the apparel sector is expected have a relatively high share of workers who are part-timers, a group that makes up more than one-third of the workforce.
The jobs lost to technology and robotics in the manufacturing industry, however, are projected to be the biggest losers.
The industry’s annual employment is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2020.
And it is projected that the number one reason for the drop in manufacturing jobs will be the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership.
“While many workers in the garment sector have been displaced by technology and automation, there are still many in the industry who have not been affected, such as workers at clothing retailers,” the APA said in a news release.
“We urge Congress to protect jobs and continue to support the garment manufacturing sector.”
It also urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would make it easier for workers to access training and support programs, and to protect workers from job displacement if the TPP fails to pass.
“Congress needs to act now to protect our jobs, our economy, and our communities by creating the necessary incentives for the TPP to be approved, which will benefit our workers and the overall economy,” the report said.