US Trade Deficit Grows In 2015

Date: February 08, 2016

Trade Deficit Climbs 2.7% In December, 4.6% For Year

The Commerce Department announced that in December, the US trade deficit rose 2.7%, or $1.1 billion, to $43.4 billion. Exports for the month stood at $181.5 billion, $500 million lower than in November, while imports in December rose by $600 million to $224.9 billion. For 2015 as a whole, the deficit for goods and services rose 4.6%, or $23.2 billion, to $531.5 billion. Total 2015 exports fell by $112.9 billion, or 4.8%, to $2.2 trillion, while total imports fell 3.1%, or $89.7 billion, to $2.8 trillion. Reuters reported that economists it polled had expected the deficit to rise to $43.0 billion from November to December, meaning the reported deficit was greater than forecast. The AP said December exports, in the third consecutive monthly decline, fell 0.3% on lower sales of civilian aircraft, cars, and agricultural products. December imports rose 0.3%, on the strength of increased buying of foreign cars and oil. For all of 2015, the US trade deficit rose 4.6%, to $531.5 billion, while exports fell 4.8%. American exporters have “been hurt by global economic weakness and a stronger dollar, which makes their products more expensive on overseas markets,” the AP said. The Wall Street Journal reported that although crude oil imports increased slightly in December, for the full year they shrank by $120.5 billion.

What This Means For Small Businesses

The latest trade deficit data confirms what many small business owners already knew about 2015 – it was a tough year for US businesses for a number of reasons, including pressure from global market forces as well as anti-small business domestic policies. In the latest Small Business Economic Trends report NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg discussed the uncertainty small businesses continue to face in the wake of an administration little concerned with the needs of small businesses: “The President appears to be shifting his attention away from the economy and toward foreign policy and guns so it’s no surprise that few small business owners expect the business climate to be better in the next six months.”

Additional Reading

Bloomberg News, the US “petroleum deficit, adjusted for changes in prices, was the lowest ever.”

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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