American producers sold fewer industrial engines, electric generators and farm products to the rest of the world in June, pushing the trade deficit to the highest level since 2008 and dealing another blow to an already struggling economy.
The deficit rose 4.4 percent to $53.1 billion in June, the largest imbalance since October 2008, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Imports fell 0.8 percent to $223.9 billion as crude oil prices fell for the first time in nine months. Exports dropped 2.3 percent to $170.9 billion, the biggest decline in more than two years.
The drop in exports, the second in a row, was a blow to hopes that rising overseas demand will boost the fortunes of American manufacturers in the face of a slump in spending by U.S. consumers. The concern now is that a global slowdown will hobble a U.S. economy that is in danger of stalling out.
The deficit through June is running at an annual rate of $576.6 billion, 15.3 percent higher than the 2010 imbalance. A higher trade deficit subtracts from overall economic growth because it means consumers are purchasing more foreign-made goods and fewer products made by U.S. workers.