One Point About Clothing Costs
I am writing to clarify a point made by Nick Koumos in the "It's My Turn" column. The Consumer Price Index for clothing has actually stagnated and, in some cases, dropped in the past few decades. It has not escalated as Koumos states in "The Plight of the Middle Class." Relative to our incomes, we spend less today to clothe ourselves than previous generations, or, in other words, our 2013 dollars get more bang for our clothing buck.
I mention this because New York was once an international garment manufacturing center. Skilled laborers supported middle class families in the garment trade. Many of these workers belonged to various unions associated with a particular specialization. The International Ladies' Garment Worker's Union alone was comprised of thousands of members.
Today, garment manufacturing has moved overseas in search of cheap, non-unionized, expendable labor. Instead of supporting local manufacturers employing our family members and neighbors, we seek out the least expensive products available, those made in countries with no labor protections. There are efforts to bring smaller scale garment manufacturing back to the city, but astronomical real estate values are an impediment.