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Job Growth Slowing as Trade Deficit Hits 10-year High

Updated : August 4th, 2020

The drop in soybean exports and the record high increase in imports of consumer goods has created a US trade deficit which is at a 10-year high. This would mean that the Trump administration’s tariff-related measures to reduce the trade gap have been ineffective.

New data suggests that private employers hired fewer workers than expected in November and this points to the moderation in the pace of the job growth. This was reinforced by yet another report that showed a decline in the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits.

Trade deficit affects job growth

The report maintains that weak housing and business spending on equipment data signals a slowdown in economic growth. There have been concerns over the health of the economy that has upset the financial markets in the last few days.

Increase in Trade Deficit

Also, the Commerce Department suggested that the trade deficit has increased by 1.7% to $55.5 billion, the highest its ever been since October 2008. This trade gap has widened for 5 straight months. Revised data show that there is a deficit rising to $54.6 billion instead of the previously reported $54 billion.

Similarly, the politically sensitive goods trade deficit with China has surged 7.1% to record $43.1 billion in October. There is a bitter trade war which is brewing between the United States and China. There are imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to force concession on the list of demands that would change the terms of trade between the two countries.

Sino-American Trade War

China has now created new import tariffs on US goods in response. President Trump accuses Beijing of not playing fairly on trade. Additionally, to the Chinese goods, Washington was slapped with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the United States. While President Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on imposing more tariffs for 90 days while they negotiate a deal to end this trade dispute.

After the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies and the daughter of its founder, this truce seems to be in jeopardy.

The overall trade deficit is forecast to rise to $55 billion in October. When it is adjusted for inflation, the good trade deficit was increased to $87.9 billion in October from $87.2 billion in September. This so-called real trade deficit above the average for the third quarter.

Trade, Stocks, and Exports

Trade subtracted 1.91 percentage points from GDP growth in the July-September quarter. Growth estimates for the fourth quarter are at 2.8% annualized rate. But owing to this, the economy still grew at a 3.5% pace in the third quarter.

But US stocks are trading sharply after Wanzhou’s arrest which has sparked fears between the Sino-US tensions. Also, the prices of the US Treasuries were trading higher while the dollar was weaker against several other currencies. Also, in October, exports of goods and services slipped by 0.1% to $211 billion. China has targeted the Soybean exports in the trade dispute and this has been dropping for the last several months and fell $0.8 billion. Exports of civilian aircraft and engines also fell.

Additionally, exports of petroleum and consumer goods were the highest on record. A strong dollar is probably restraining the overall export growth.

Imports Reach a Record High

With the trade deficit reaching an all-time high, this would mean that imports would have sky-rocketed. Imports of goods and services rose by 0.2 percent to $266.5 billion which is an all-time high. Consumer goods imports increased by $2 billion to a record high of $57.4 billion and were boosted by a $1.5 billion increase in imports of pharmaceutical preparations.

Another item that reached its highest record is motor vehicles as were other imports of goods. Imports are driven by high domestic demand as well as the strong dollar which is making the prices of imported goods cheaper and this offsets the impact of the tariffs.

At the same time, the ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls rose by 179,000 jobs in November after the downwardly revised increase of 225,000 in October.

The forecasts show that private payrolls advanced 195,000 last month following a previously reported 227,000 increase in October.

This ADP report which was jointly developed with the help of Moody’s Analytics published ahead of the government’s more comprehensive employment report for November which is scheduled for release on Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls are likely increased by 200,000 in November after surging by 250,000 in October. The unemployment rate is forecast holding steady at half a century low of 3.7%.

Though the ADP report is a record that predicts the private payrolls component of the government’s employment report, job growth looks like its slowing. The main reason for this is due to the shortage of qualified workers.

The Decline in Hiring and Claims

In its third report, the Labor Department expressed that the initial claims for the state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to seasonally adjusted 231,000 for the week ended Dec. 1. Even though claims have fallen to 225,000 in the latest week, claims have risen for three straight weeks touching an eight-month high of 235,000 during the week ending November 24.

This is a reason to believe that the labor market has reached its peak. While job layoffs have increased, there is an uncertainty over facing tariffs and the stock market turbulence may have to be dented confidence as well, for companies that are trimming their staff.

The fourth report by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) expressed that its non-manufacturing activity index rose 0.4 points to a reading last month of 60.7. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector which accounts for more than two-thirds of activity in the US economy.

But this time around, the ISM’s employment measure fell 1.3 points last month with employers in the construction industry reporting difficulties finding workers due to lack of qualified talent. Only time will tell if job growth would be triggered by policy-making and the change in trend in the job market.

You can read more about the unemployment situation in the US and stay updated. 

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  1. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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