US trade deficit hits record $80.9 billion

US trade deficit hits record $80.9 billion
© Photo illustration/Nicole Vas

The U.S. trade deficit has hit a record high of $80.9 billion in September as American exports fell sharply while American imports continue to climb, the Associated Press reported. 

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the September deficit topped the previous record of $73.2 billion set in June.

Exports plunged three percent to $207.6 billion in September, as imports rose 0.6 percent to $288.5 million.

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The politically sensitive trade deficit with China also rose 15 percent in September to $36.5 billion. 

During the first nine months of this year, the U.S. deficit with China reached $255.4 billion, an increase of 14.9 percent from the same period in 2020, according to the AP. 

The overall  trade deficit through September hit $638.6 million, which is a 33.1 percent increase over the same period in 2020.

The huge jump reflects the current surge of the U.S. demands for imports compared to 2020, when many parts of the economy were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists say the trade deficit should start to improve as COVID-19 cases begin to slow down and the supply chain becomes untangled, the AP noted. 

“We look for the trade balance to remain historically elevated through year-end, but moderation in domestic demand will cool import volumes while steady vaccine diffusion and slower virus spread should underpin stronger export growth,” Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics.