U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods Jumps 17.5% as Imports Surge

The trade deficit in goods surged by 17.5% in November to set an all-time high, largely reflecting faster improvement in the U.S. economy compared to most other countries.

An early or advanced look at the trade gap in goods showed that it increased to $97.8 billion in November from $83.2 billion in October, the U.S. Census Bureau said. The U.S. is on track in 2021 to post its biggest annual shortfall on record.

An advanced estimate of wholesale inventories, meanwhile, revealed a 1.2% increase in November. And retail inventories jumped 2%, according to an early estimate.

U.S. imports of goods rose 4.7% to $252.4 billion in November. Imports of industrial supplies, autos, consumer goods and food all rose sharply. Americans have snapped up huge quantities of imports since the U.S. economy fully reopened earlier this year. Federal stimulus money, rising wages and a fast-recovering economy have given consumers the financial means and confidence to spend.

The trade deficit is likely to subside eventually as other economies rebound, but U.S. trade deficits have been high for years and are likely to remain that way. A higher deficit subtracts from gross domestic product, the official scorecard for the U.S. economy.