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Trade deficit widens, unemployment near 18-year low

Posted: 7:39 AM, Aug 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-03 08:39:44-04

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. trade deficit widened in June for the first time in four months as exports fell and imports grew. Politically sensitive trade gaps with China, Mexico and Canada all increased.

The Commerce Department says the deficit in goods and services – the gap between what the US sells and what it buys in foreign markets – rose 7.3 percent to $46.3 billion in June from $43.2 billion in May. U.S. exports slid 0.7 percent to $213.8 billion; imports rose 0.6 percent to $260.2 billion.

In the first half of the year, the United States has registered a trade deficit of $291.2 billion, up 7.2 percent from January-June 2017.

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to bring down the gap, which he blames on bad trade deals.

JOBS

U.S. employers slowed their hiring in July, adding 157,000 jobs, a solid gain but below the healthy pace they maintained in the first half of this year.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9 percent from 4 percent. That’s near an 18-year low of 3.8 percent reached in May.

Employers added an average of 224,000 new workers in the first six months of this year, a faster pace than in 2017. The pickup has impressed many economists because it’s happening late in the economic expansion, which has entered its 10th year and is now the second-longest in U.S. history.

The economy grew in the April-June quarter at its fastest pace in four years. Business and consumers are optimistic, suggesting solid hiring is likely to continue.

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