Geographic Concentration of U.S. Textile and Apparel Industries

The geographic concentration of textile and apparel employment in the United States is best demonstrated using Lorenz curves that plot the cumulative share of national employment against the ranked cumulative share of industry employment. Thus, if every county in the United States employed the same share of its workers in an industry, that industry's Lorenz curve would trace out a 45-degree line from the origin, which would represent equally dispersed employment. Industry employment is more geographically concentrated the farther an industry Lorenz curve is from the 45-degree line.

Lorenz curves for textiles, apparel, and furniture are provided in the figure below. They are three of the five U.S. industries that display the highest geographical concentration nationwide. (The other two are transportation equipment and primary metals.) The degree of geographic concentration of the textile industry is indeed exceptional. Reading along the 95th percentile line provides the best indication of the difference in geographic concentration. The counties to the right of the 95th percentile represent those most specialized in an industry that together account for 5 percent of national employment. Their share of industry employment is the complement of where the Lorenz curve and the 95th percentile line intersect. For example, the textiles line intersects the 95th percentile at roughly 20 percent on the y-axis (point A), meaning that the most specialized counties account for close to 80 percent of textile employment. In comparison, the most specialized apparel counties claiming 5 percent of total private employment account for only 35 percent of industry employment (point B).