I visited an abandoned textile mill in North Carolina, recently.
The mill, shut decades ago, stands as a symbol of how our economy is in continual flux as it struggles to adapt within the global marketplace.
Textile production and processing began in the Southeastern United States in the late 19th century. By 1923, more than 84,000 textile workers were employed at more than 350 mills across North Carolina.
By the 1950s, North Carolina had become the preeminent textile producing state, ranking #1 in virtually every industry category.
The industry reached its peak in 1992 when textile production represented 16 percent of total manufacturing output, as compared to the U.S. average of just over two percent of total manufacturing in textiles.
In 1996, there were 2,153 textile and apparel plants in North Carolina employing 233,715 people.
But, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in textile manufacturing in the state from 2004 to 2011 fell by nearly 6,000. Total employment today stands at around 80,000.
Today, there are mills which have survived the changes through competitive pricing models and technological innovations.We can only hope that our economy continues to adjust and meet the needs of its people as it walks into 2016.