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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. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much
    Lorraine

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    Inbox
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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