Not only do US apparel makers feel threatened by offshore competition, but there is a menace closer to home too according to recent newspaper reports.

House lawmakers have urged the Bush administration to take action against the federal prison system to prevent convicts learning trades that could lead to new job losses in the textile and manufacturing sectors.

In a testimony before the House Small Business Committee, Donald DeRossi, proprietor of the garment maker DeRossi and Sons Inc, said he feared his firm would collapse altogether if it lost its federal contracts to make military uniforms The San Diego Union-Tribune said.

In fiscal 2001 federal inmates sold $582 million in goods to government agencies.