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Output at the nation's textile mills slowed this year as record imports and the sluggish economy cost the industry profits and jobs, textile makers reported.

Profits at mills fell 57 percent, textile shipments were down 5 percent and employment was off 3 percent from last year, the institute reported.

The textile industry saw a trade gap of $25.2 billion, as $32.5 billion worth of imports outpaced $7.3 billion in exports, the institute said.

Textile imports reached a record annual high, up 2 percent from 1989, the institute reported. Exports rose 22 percent, but they were outdone by the continued growth and sheer volume of imports into the United States.

Imported cloth and clothing "is taking a heavy toll in terms of production, earnings and jobs," said Donald Hughes, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

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