Exports Are Good Gauge of US Growth

We’ve grown so accustomed to reading about bad news that when there’s a glimmer of hope, it’s largely ignored.

Suddenly, like when a flower sprouts at the end of one of those apocalyptic movies, the U.S. trade deficit has narrowed and exports are up despite the fact that trade has been largely ignored and mishandled by our government for years.

Drawn on a proud history of rebounding after economic meltdowns, trade has found a way to persevere.

A recent economic report showed that the trade deficit narrowed to $38.7 billion in October from a revised $44.6 billion in September. Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $44.5 billion from the $44 billion originally reported for the previous month.

A jump in exports contributed to the narrower deficit, with the value of exports surging by 3.2 percent to $158.7 billion in October from $153.8 billion in September.

The sharp rise in the value of exports was largely due to a 4.2 percent increase in exports of goods, with exports of industrial supplies and materials showing a substantial increase. Exports of services increased by a more modest 0.9 percent.

And even the ever-ballooning trade deficit with China narrowed to $25.5 billion in October from $27.8 billion in September.

Why is this good news?

Because a rise in U.S. exports results in an increase of U.S. jobs. It means that entrepreneurs and small businesses, which make up more than 97 percent of U.S. exporters, are showing renewed confidence in investing in their business. These are the kind of opportunities we need as export-related jobs, dollar for dollar, employ five times more people and pay 17 percent higher wages than import-related jobs.

With the imminent ratification of the U.S.-South Korean free-trade agreement, our exports will be on the move again.

Look to exports as a bellwether for growth.

Watch carefully the new Congress and let them know we expect this momentum to continue to build. Once we get the South Korea agreement behind us, we must immediately ratify our other two pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

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