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February 09, 2007

Textile jobs

It’s well known that textile jobs in North Carolina have been dropping for several decades, yet N.C. State University’s College of Textiles continues to attract students and place graduates. Dr. Mike Walden, a university economist, explains why these two trends aren’t incompatible.

“The trends are different for different jobs in that textile industry. The jobs we are losing – and indeed we lost 20,000 textile jobs last year in North Carolina – the jobs that we are losing tend to be the so-called cut-and-sew, factory-level jobs. [These are] often [filled by] workers who don’t have advanced training. Those are the kinds of jobs that are going overseas to where labor is cheaper,” explains Dr. Walden, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

“However, the domestic textile industry that is remaining, which will be smaller, is more focused on research, more focused on new products and industrial applications. And they need well-trained professional and technical workers for those jobs, and those are exactly the kind of folks that our textile colleges are turning out,” Walden adds. “So actually there is going to continue be a textile industry in North Carolina. It is going to need a different kind of worker -- one that comes out of the college.”

Posted by deeshore at February 9, 2007 10:55 AM