SILVER SPRING, Md. – The level of imported goods to the U.S. in January reached unprecedented levels and pushed the trade deficit 1.9% higher as the coronavirus pandemic continues to distort global commerce.
The gap between the goods and services the United States sold and what it bought abroad rose to $68.2 billion from $67 billion in December, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Exports rose 1% to $191.9 billion, while imports increased 1.2% to $260.2 billion.
Imports of goods, not including services, increased $3.4 billion to a record $221.1 billion in January, led by pharmaceuticals, which rose $5 billion, or 39%, to $17.4 billion. Imports of services fell about 1%.
The figure exceeded the previous record for imported goods of $218.9 billion set in October, 2018.
U.S. exports of goods rose $2.1 billion to $135.7 billion in January, while exports of services, like transport and travel, declined $0.3 billion to $56.3 billion.
The politically sensitive trade gap with China fell 3.2% to $27.2 billion. The trade deficit with Mexico rose $1.6 billion to $11.9 billion in January.
The coronavirus has upended trade in services such as education and travel, sections of the economy in which the United States runs persistent surpluses. Measured in dollars, monthly exports of U.S. services have declined by nearly one-fourth since the virus outbreak about a year ago.
Year-over-year, the goods and services deficit climbed to $23.8 billion, or 53.7%, from January 2020.