The textile industry began relocation from the North to the South after the Civil War. The move was to take advantage of a large pool of low-cost and unorganized labor. The ethnic composition of the labor force in the North was primarily native- or foreign-born whites, unskilled and recruited from the farm population. In the South, operatives were recruited mainly from among native-born whites (Bureau of the Census, 1907). In both the North and the South, the employment of blacks in the textile industry was negligible until the 1960s and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Minchin, 1999; Rowan, 1970).
By 1950, the total number of males employed in the textile industry (708,000) outnumbered the females (523,000). Data for 1983 shows that 49.3 percent of 742,000 workers were women, 21.3 percent were black, and 4.4 percent of Hispanic origin. By 1987, 48.1 percent of 713,000 workers were female, with 24.8 percent black and 6.6 percent of Hispanic origin (United States Department of Labor, 1988). By 2002, of the 429,000 textile workers, there were 326,000 males (76%), 88,000 blacks (20.5%), and 62,000 Hispanics (14%).
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