March 12, 2018 | by    

This Week’s Top Economic News: U.S. Trade Deficit Increased Nearly 17 Percent From January 2017 To January 2018

  • The U.S. trade deficit increased $2.7 billion to $56.6 billion in January 2018. The January increase reflected a rise in the goods deficit of $2.8 billion (to $76.5 billion) and an increase in the services surplus of $0.1 billion (to $19.9 billion). The trade deficit was 16.2 percent higher than it was in January 2017.
  • The U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February and the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. The country’s labor force participation rate increased from 62.7 percent to 63 percent. The primary metals industry in the United States added 900 jobs while the fabricated metals sector added 200 jobs. In other U.S. employment news: U.S. productivity was flat in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 231,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended March 2, up from 210,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased while the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits fell. That figure dropped to 1.87 million for the week that ended February 24 from 1.934 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined.
  • The Canadian economy added 15,400 jobs in February and the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, its lowest level since 1976. Part-time employment increased by 54,700 jobs while full-time employed dropped by 39,300. Manufacturers shed 16,500 jobs last month. The report, from Statistics Canada, indicated wages increased 3.1 percent between February 2017 and February 2018.
  • New orders for manufactured goods in the United States fell 1.4 percent from December 2017 to January 2018 and shipments rose 0.6 percent. The number of unfilled orders also declined, falling 0.3 percent, and the unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio dropped to 6.54 from 6.58. Inventories increased 0.3 percent and the inventories-to-shipments ratio held steady at 1.35.