U.S. Trade Deficit Jumps 15.1% In January, Even As Exports Set Record
The U.S. trade deficit widened an unexpectedly large 15.1% in January, to $46.3 billion from a revised $40.3 billion in December, according to the Commerce Department's monthly statement on the U.S.'s trade balance.
The rise far out-stripped expectations for a January trade deficit of $41.5 billion. The increase was due to increased imports of petroleum products, automotive vehicles and parts, consumer goods, and capital goods, which reached a record monthly level, according to the statement.
Both U.S. exports of goods, at $120.5 billion, and services, at $47.5 billion, actually set monthly records, for a combined increase of 2.7% from December, a fact obscured by the surprisingly large deficit. It wasn't enough, however, to overcome the 5.2% increase in imports.
"The administration is focused on jumpstarting exports and helping U.S. businesses grow and create jobs through efforts like the National Export Initiative and tax credits for business investment," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "We've now seen private-sector job growth for 12 straight months, and increasing U.S. exports plays a key role in that. We are committed to putting the necessary tools in the hands of America's businesses to help them out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world and get the U.S. economy firing on all cylinders again."