More and More U.S. Clothes Are Made by Bangladeshi Workers Earning Pennies an Hour

by Categorized: Business, Consumer Affairs, Data, Employment, Finance, Politics, Poverty Date:

U.S. consumers horrified by the tragic building collapse in Bangladesh might want to check the manufacturer’s label on the clothing they’re wearing; data show the compact nation is now the fourth-largest source of apparel imported into the U.S., delivering $4.5 billion a year in goods.

That’s more than double the amount imported from Bangladesh a decade ago, and in that same time frame, Bangladesh’s share of the U.S. apparel market has nearly doubled as well. In 2003, Bangladesh ranked 10th among nations supplying the United States, with 3 percent of all apparel imports, Department of Commerce numbers show. But as manufacturers have sought ever-lower labor costs, that figure has jumped to 5.8 percent.

The shift in manufacturing to Bangladesh comes as wages are rising slowly in other apparel-producing countries, including China. Pay in Bangladesh increased three years ago as well, but the minimum wage for garment workers in the country is still about $38 a month.

Efforts to increase that amount have met resistance from factory owners and government officials, who fear even a small uptick in wages will lead Western brands to look elsewhere for suppliers.

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4 thoughts on “More and More U.S. Clothes Are Made by Bangladeshi Workers Earning Pennies an Hour

    1. clark peters

      Lee – Some historical perspective is in order. Without “the unions” and the courageous workers who built them that building collapse could have happened in downtown New York City. The garment workers in Bangladesh are fighting for an end to this exploitation and they will only achieve it through unions and politics. We should be helping them win their rights, not blaming those who helped win safe conditions for workers here. Ban imports from countries without labor rights and the right to organize!

  1. PBW

    It is not the unions that killed these people; it is corporate greed. How much is enough? I just checked my $200 Goretex jacket, sold by a company I thought to be reputable and am disappointed. Made in Bangladesh. So sad that we Americans are selling our souls for profit.

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