A drop in U.S. exports last month pushed the country’s trade deficit in goods higher while the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week in a positive sign for the labor market.
As Reuters reports, the two reports released today suggested that when Donald Trump becomes president next month, the labor market will likely be at roughly full strength and international trade could be weighing on the economy.
In an initial estimate that does not include trade in services, the Commerce Department says America exported $1.2 billion less in November than in October. Imports rose by $2.2 billion during the month. The full trade report for November is due on Jan. 6.
Trump campaigned heavily on promises to reduce America’s trade deficit and bring back jobs that moved abroad to countries with lower costs for manufacturing.
Working against him could be a stronger U.S. dollar, which could weigh on U.S. exporters. The trade deficit for goods widened by $3.4 billion in November to $65.3 billion.
The dollar has surged about 5% since Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election as investors bet wider budget deficits under his presidency will trigger higher inflation and more interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve.
Separately, initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended Dec. 24, the Labor Department says.