Section 1: U.S. Trade
The United States has historically run trade deficits (i.e., importing more than is exported) since the late 1970’s. This is largely due to U.S. trade deficits in manufactured goods. The U.S. goods trade deficit for the month of July was $96.0 billion, representing a month-on-month increase of 6.0% from June and a 1.1% increase from July of the previous year. Figure 1 shows a table of other notable U.S. trade partners and their balances with the United States for June 2023.
U.S. Census Bureau – International Trade Data
Section 2: Manufacturing and Goods Production
The number of employees gained or lost within the United States’ goods sector allows us to better understand the state of domestic manufacturing. Total manufacturing employment in the U.S. was reported at 13.0 million workers for August of 2023, showing an increase of 0.1% from July and a 0.8% increase from August of last year. As of this month, manufacturing employees make up 8.3% of the total United States workforce, following the historical trend of manufacturing accounting for less of the total workforce. Total construction and mining employees for August were reported to be 7.99 million (+2.7% YoY) and 0.60 million (+5.5% YoY), respectively.
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Employment Situation
New Orders of Manufactured Goods
New orders of manufactured goods shows the total intended number of purchases of a U.S. product, providing insight into the strength of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Total new orders for July of 2023 were reported to be $579.4 billion, a 2.1% decrease from last month and a 0.7% decrease year-on-year. Other notable product sectors were:
Primary metal manufacturing (iron, steel, and aluminum foundries) reported new orders of $26.9 billion for July, a 0.1% decrease from last month and a 1.0% increase year-on-year.
Computer and electrical products manufacturing (computers, communications, and electronic components) reported new orders of $37.6 for July, a 0.7% increase from last month and a 0.2% increase year-on-year.
Machinery manufacturing (engines, construction equipment, and other machines) reported new orders of $24.3 billion for July, a 0.6% decrease from last month and a 1.0% increase year-over-year.
U.S. Census Bureau – Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders Report
Section 3: Economic Overview
Inflation affects all facets of the economy, from consumer spending to business investment. The year-on-year growth rate of the consumer price index (CPI), a primary measure for inflation, was 3.7% in August of 2023. Figure 2 shows the historical CPI growth rate (YoY) figures for the past 12 months.
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Monthly CPI Report
Unemployment and the Labor Force
The unemployment rate for August of 2023 was reported at 3.8%, an 8.6% increase from last month and a 2.7% increase year-on-year. Employment in the labor force increased by 222 thousand people, bringing the total employment in the labor force to 161.5 million as of August. Figure 3 shows historical unemployment rates for the last 12 months.
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Current Population Survey
National Budget Balance
The U.S. budget balance was recorded as an $89.3 billion surplus for August of 2023. Smaller budget deficits (or growing budget surpluses) tend to be signs of a strengthening economy, when the government can collect more tax revenue and simultaneously spend less on social programs. Typically, the U.S. runs a monthly budget deficit. However, after the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan in June, $319 billion in reversal costs led to a rare surplus in August. Table 4 shows historical budget deficits and surpluses for the U.S. for the past year.
Bureau of the Fiscal Service – Monthly Treasury Statement