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Life and Labor in the New New South$
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Robert Zieger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037950

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037950.001.0001

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Shutdowns in the Sun Belt: The Decline of the Textile and Apparel Industry and Deindustrialization in the South

Shutdowns in the Sun Belt: The Decline of the Textile and Apparel Industry and Deindustrialization in the South

Chapter:
(p.258) 9 Shutdowns in the Sun Belt: The Decline of the Textile and Apparel Industry and Deindustrialization in the South
Source:
Life and Labor in the New New South
Author(s):

Timothy J. Minchin

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813037950.003.0010

This chapter explores the decline of the textile and apparel industry in the South. For decades the industry was the biggest employer in the region, but since the 1970s it has been hit hard by import competition and automation. The industry's decline accelerated in the 1990s, and this chapter examines how both NAFTA and the rise of China affected the industry. It also shows that the industry's decline had a significant economic, social, and cultural impact upon both workers and the communities in which they live, with African Americans and women workers hit particularly hard. It reviews the broader literature on deindustrialization and argues that the textile and apparel industry deserves a more central place within it. Overall, the industry's demise and the suffering it generated also highlights that much of the South did not have a prosperous “Sun Belt” economy.

Keywords:   South, textile industry, deindustrialization, North American Free Trade Agreement, manufacturing employment, imports, sunbelt, textile workers

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