THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GARMENT INDUSTRY IN SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
University of Delaware
The success of the garment industry in Schuylkill County is closely related to the status of Schuylkill County’s economy—both rising from the 1930s to 1950s and declining from the 1970s to today. The purposes of this study are to determine what forces led to the rise and fall of the garment industry in Schuylkill County; to analyze if there is a possibility for Schuylkill County to establish a new, modern garment industry; and to bring awareness about Schuylkill County’s importance to the nation and poor, current economy. Data were collected from books written by experts on the garment industry, the state of Pennsylvania, and Schuylkill County; primary sources provided by the Schuylkill County Historical Society; online articles; and one-on-one interviews of people who once worked in the garment factories of Schuylkill County. The data supports the conclusions that the rising and falling success of the garment industry in Schuylkill County was a result of the industry’s pattern of moving to regions with the lowest cost of labor; globalization and reduction of barriers due to free trade; and the development of America, which increased demand for better working rights and more consumption. To establish a new garment industry in Schuylkill County, recommendations include expanding the local labor force with new immigrants and producing high quality, innovative products.