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U.S. Trade Deficit Rises

The United States trade deficit hit a near record in December, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray broke it down for us.

Topline numbers: “The U.S. trade deficit rose from $79.33 billion in November to $80.73 billion in December, which was just shy of the all-time high of $80.81 billion recorded in September,” said Moutray. “These data have been skewed over the course of 2021 by supply chain disruptions and the chip shortage. For the year, the U.S. trade deficit reached $859.13 billion in 2021, up from $676.68 billion in 2020 and an all-time high.”

Goods and services: “The goods trade deficit increased from $98.27 billion in November to $101.43 billion in December, a record high,” said Moutray. “Goods imports jumped from $254.52 billion to $259.70 billion, an all-time high. Goods exports rose from $156.25 billion to $158.27 billion, which was not far from October’s record pace ($159.01 billion). At the same time, the service-sector trade surplus improved from $18.94 billion to $20.70 billion, the strongest reading since May.”
The details: “In December, goods exports rose on increases for consumer goods (up $1.24 billion), non-automotive capital goods (up $887 million), automotive vehicles, parts and engines (up $797 million) and industrial supplies and materials (up $463 million),” said Moutray. “Exports for foods, feeds and beverages declined $1.07 billion for the month. Meanwhile, sharp increases in goods imports for consumer goods (up $5.18 billion), automotive vehicles, parts and engines (up $2.41 billion) and non-automotive capital goods (up $2.32 billion) were enough to offset decreases for industrial supplies and materials (down $3.25 billion) and foods, feeds and beverages (down $760 million). Interestingly, goods exports and goods imports for consumer goods both hit new records in December. Exports of pharmaceutical products helped lift consumer goods exports, whereas cell phones and toys accounted for the bulk of the rise in consumer goods imports.”
The big picture: “Looking at longer-term trends, U.S.-manufactured goods exports totaled $1,133.25 billion in 2021, using non-seasonally adjusted data, soaring 18.91% from $953.02 billion in 2020,” said Moutray. “Likewise, manufactured goods imports grew 19.08% from $2,068.29 billion in 2020 to $2,463.03 billion in 2021.”

A helping hand: The NAM worked with partners to develop a cloud-based Industry 4.0 platform to help solve the supply chain crisis in America: the Manufacturers Marketplace. This platform connects all manufacturers in the U.S. and suppliers into a single, accurate, searchable supply chain database, intelligently linking small American manufacturers and suppliers to large primes, original equipment manufacturers and government buyers based on deep data, such as equipment, certifications, capabilities and more.

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