Feb 8, 2022 - Economy & Business

U.S. trade deficit hit record in 2021

SAN PEDRO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Aerial view of containers and cargo ships at the Port of Los Angeles on January 19, 2022 in San Pedro, California
Aerial view of containers and cargo ships at the Port of Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2022, in San Pedro, Calif. Photo: Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images

The U.S. trade deficit reached record levels in 2021, rising 27% to a total of $859.1 billion, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau out Tuesday.

The big picture: The pandemic has caused people to shift their spending away from domestically produced services and toward imported durable goods, Axios' Neil Irwin reports.

  • The wider trade deficit reflects Americans' ability to buy goods they want, according to Irwin.

Driving the news: The trade deficit rose 1.8% to $80.7 billion for December as imports surged, according to the data.

  • The deficit for goods alone topped $1 trillion for the first time as spending on computers, toys, bicycles, clothing, pharmaceuticals and other goods made in foreign factories rose during the pandemic.
  • The deficit was driven by a $576.5 billion increase in imports last year, as Americans purchased more foreign products, according to the New York Times.
  • Exports also rose $394.1 billion, or 18.5%, as demand for foreign goods surged.

The big picture: The pandemic has caused people to shift their spending away from domestically produced services and toward imported durable goods, Axios' Neil Irwin reports.

  • The wider trade deficit reflects Americans' ability to buy goods they want, according to Irwin.

Go deeper: Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

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