February Trade Deficit Was Enormous, Humongous And Caused Job Loss

Dave JohnsonThe February trade deficit numbers are out. Exports were up but imports were up way more than exports. Result: We shipped even more jobs and wealth out of the country in exchange for stuff we could have made here. That means we also shipped out essential components of our manufacturing ecosystem, further harming our ability to make a living in the future.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the February goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $47.1 billion. The February goods deficit was $64.7 billion, offset by an $17.7 billion services surplus.

“February exports were $178.1 billion, $1.8 billion more than January exports. February imports were $225.1 billion, $3.0 billion more than January imports,” their statement read.

Chinese imports accounted for 44 percent of the overall U.S. trade deficit and monthly exports to China ($8.05 billion) were the lowest since April 2011. “The deficit with China increased $1.0 billion to $32.1 billion in February. Exports decreased $0.3 billion to $8.4 billion and imports increased $0.8 billion to $40.5 billion.”

This Is Called “Trading”?

Again: in February we bought $40.5 billion worth of stuff from China but only sold $8.4 billion worth of stuff to China. This goes on month after month, year after year and we don’t do anything about it because it is making a few people really, really rich by driving American wages down. And that’s called “trade”? That doesn’t sound like they’re engaging in “trading” with us at all. It sounds like they’re getting away with a scheme to bankrupt us.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul commented on the trade deficit numbers:

“The trade deficit gives us some insight as to why so many manufacturing jobs have been shed over the past year, including 29,000 manufacturing jobs in March — and I worry the worst might be yet to come. The trade deficit with China continues to grow to new levels, and today’s numbers show that our trade weakness is not limited to China alone.”

These continuing enormous, humongous trade deficits are reflected in our country’s loss of good-paying jobs – especially manufacturing jobs. Last week’s post, “Jobs Report Highlights Trade, Manufacturing Problems,” discussed how our trade policies are driving jobs, factories, wealth, key components of our manufacturing ecosystem and overall ability to make a living out of the country,

In an otherwise OK jobs report, America’s manufacturing sector lost 29,000 jobs in March. This comes after a loss of jobs in February as well. So, no resulting upward pressure on wages.

Our country’s “deindustrialization” trade policies, which includes a “strong dollar” policy, are at the root of this problem. Also, our intentional lack of a national manufacturing/industrial/economic policy and plan hold back the growth of good-paying jobs and allow our manufacturing ecosystem to whither away.

Voters have certainly caught on that these disastrous trade policies, resulting in continuing enormous, humongous trade deficits, are driving jobs and wages away.

This blog originally appeared at ourfuture.org on APril 5, 2016.  Reprinted with permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.