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Need a Job? The Sewing Industry Is Making a Comeback

We've all heard about manufacturing jobs being shipped overseas, but consumers are demanding more American made textile products. The problem is manufacturers have too much work and not enough sewers.

(Photo Credit: ladyada/Flickr)

The sewing industry has been gutted since 1990, with 77 percent of jobs axed as companies find cheaper labor outside the United States. But with some high-profile factory tragedies abroad and Americans increasingly wanting to buy products made domestically, factory jobs are returning stateside, the New York Times reported last month

The issue is finding qualified sewers. Though unemployment continues to be stubbornly high, few have the skill set needed to handle industrial level sewing machines.

"The sad truth is, we put ads in the paper and not many people show up," Mike Miller, a chief executive in the industrial sewing industry, told the Times.

Miller's company, Airtex, has tried to build a workforce from scratch, recruiting, then training, and finally hiring workers in the Minneapolis area. Local charities helped pay for the tuition for the training, over $3,000 for the six month program. Of the 18 students in the inaugural class, nine graduated and eight got jobs.

The median annual salary for a sewing machine operator is $22,560 and many positions receive benefits, according to PayScale.


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18 Comments

  1. 18 Sharon Wyatt 03 Apr
    I've sewed for 38 years custom tailoring in the 70's &'90's Worked at belair Product & Schubert Industries in the 80's and quit a few other places most moved south or closed down. Now I just sew on my own, reupholster & things. I would LOVE to sew industrial again. I live in Northern Ohio nothing by me.
  2. 17 Delores Twery 17 Mar
    would love to sew for a living
  3. 16 Jennifer Pinney 17 Mar
    I absolutely love this idea. It seems like a bunch agree. The issues with this is of course is locations to find this type of work. Also, what about older generations that have experience and would be more willing to sew at home? And higher pay? I would love to do this and know family members that would too. Not sure about the younger generation as mentioned since technology is such a huge deal.
  4. 15 US 17 Mar
    I would LOVE to learn how to sew on Industrial Sewing Machines and take up a job! But where do we find classes? Somebody please guide! I live in New Jersey.
  5. 14 Tammy 17 Mar
    My mom was a seamstress and I do some seamstress work. But location is everything. Without location of work there is nothing. Some people want things for cheep. They don't know what is involved in making a hand made product. Go to a chain store if you want cheep. Shipping work to other countries I feel in the US like everything else is a dying trade. My own daughter wants nothing to do with sewing. New technology cell phones, computers etc. are taking them away from what I feel is a dying trade. Would love it to come back.
  6. 13 VENITA WRIGHT 16 Mar
    they will, must pay us at the high wage... no sweat shop nonsense.... or we go into biz our selves..... simple....
  7. 12 Pauline 16 Mar
    Sounds like a good idea. I've been sewing since 7th grade. Have several machines industrial and regular home sewing machines. Would only consider it if I can do it from home.....
  8. 11 Delia 16 Mar
    Geez, this is my line. I worked for years in sewing Factory and loved it. I would still love to do it but I'm in my 60's now and unfortunately in Australia. I would love to go back to work.
  9. 10 Terry 16 Mar
    that pay is very low. A good seamstress can make more than that doing alterations
  10. 9 Gina 16 Mar
    thats not even a living wage,
  11. 8 Maddy 16 Mar
    I loved production machines. I worked as a kid in a sewing factory, and then did production sewing in the industrial parks in lowell ma.....love the work. Problem has always been the pay. Hard to support yourself as a seamstress.
  12. 7 Noelia Lebron 16 Mar
    I think is a very good idea. Sometimes when I go shopping for a dress, the manufactures has make very big mistakes. The line do not match and the finishing is very ship, jet the dress is $200.00 . Who want to use something like that not me for sure. I am retired now, but I did work for a wile on the industry. Understand the need .
  13. 6 Rebecca Ayers 16 Mar
    I would, worked in them until they all moved away from Virginia
  14. 5 Kathy Lynn 16 Mar
    I would love to do this! I have my own machine...have for years.. Wonder if they would consider anyone to work at home?
  15. 4 jan 16 Mar
    I would been sewing for years.
  16. 3 Penny 16 Mar
    It would be hard to live on $22560
  17. 2 sandra white 16 Mar
    I worked in a sewing factory most of my life. Would love to work in one again. But sadly non near me now.
  18. 1 Debbie frondle 16 Mar
    Love to do this

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