U.S. Trade Gap in August Was Largest Since 2006



Paul Kiernan | The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The U.S. posted its largest monthly trade deficit since 2006 in August as imports of consumer goods recovered to pre-pandemic levels and exports of services and manufacturing products stalled.

The U.S. trade deficit widened 5.9% from July to $67.1 billion, the largest gap since August 2006, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Imports rose 3.2% to $239 billion in August, while exports ticked 2.2% higher to $171.9 billion.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a trade gap of $66.2 billion.

Imports of consumer goods and food rose in August and are the only broad categories of foreign trade that have surpassed year-ago levels, Tuesday’s data showed. That likely reflects the roughly $1 trillion of fiscal support that the federal government has pumped into U.S. households through enhanced unemployment insurance, stimulus checks and tax cuts, since March.

While those programs have mostly run their course—the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefits expired in July—consumer spending continued to grow through August. The result has been higher imports of furniture, clothes and pharmaceuticals.

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