It is 2016 and we are now a state with 10 million people. We outgrew Michigan to become the nation’s ninth largest state. Forty years ago, when North Carolina had 5 million inhabitants, hosiery and textiles manufacturing dominated the state’s workforce. Since the beginning of the 21st century, our payrolls have declined from over 200,000 employees to just under 81,000. In 1996 when globalization became an ominous word, there were 2,153 textiles and apparel plants. Today there are 1,282.
Yet, thanks to innovations in technology and manufacturing processes, our output is growing. Hosiery, textiles, and supply chain services are more sophisticated in response to a changing world for U.S. manufacturers. Give credit to the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center for support and leadership and valuable services.
North Carolina’s growth has presented serious challenges to our mills. Most of the growth has taken place in large urban areas, most notably Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. Smaller communities where mills are located actually are losing population. Recruiting competent, motivated employees is a challenge. Demand for training is accelerating. The changing profile of North Carolina is pushing companies into a new world of technology and performance products.
North Carolina adds 281 people a day. Most are from other states. Today only 58 percent of North Carolinians are natives; 33.1 per cent were born in other states and the rest in other countries, mainly Mexico and other Latin America. Just under 70 percent of our residents are white; 21.5 percent black; 8.4 percent Latino; 2.2 percent Asian.
May 18: Hosiery and Textiles Day in Legislature