Small U.S. clothing companies are more likely than high-tech firms to be run out of business by global competitors, according to a study by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

Among U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees across all industries, clothing companies had the highest rates of failure between 1999 and 2004, the study found. While fluctuating exchange rates and competition from imports led many clothing companies to close down, small high-tech firms were more likely to flourish.

"Small manufacturers in high-tech industries are more insulated from international competitive pressures than those in other sectors," Robert Feinberg, professor of economics at American University who directed the study, said in a statement.

The findings were based on data from the U.S Census Bureau, the New York Federal Reserve Board and the National Science Foundation.