The numbers: The U.S. trade deficit climbed almost 6% in August to $67.1 billion and hit the third highest level on record, reflecting an ongoing struggle by American exporters to recover all the ground lost in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Economists polled by MarketWatch has forecast a $66.7 billion trade gap.
What happened: Imports of foreign goods and services rose 3.2% in August to $239 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday.
Exports increased a smaller 2.2% to $171.9 billion.
Imports have rebounded faster than exports, largely reflecting a stronger recovery in the U.S. economy compared to many of its trading partners. Imports are just 3% below prepandemic levels.
Exports, on the other hand, are about 18% lower compared to the last month before the pandemic. Disruptions in global supply chains and weaker demand overseas have hindered the ability of U.S. exporters to recover all the sales lost early in the pandemic.
The U.S. is also exporting fewer services tied to travel and tourism with so few people around the world flying and visiting other countries. Typically the U.S. runs a large surplus in services because its one of the most frequented travel destinations in the world.
Read: Consumer confidence surges to highest level of coronavirus era
The trade gap in goods with China, meanwhile, fell to $26.4 billion in August from $28.3 billion in the prior month. The deficit with China is running about 18% lower in 2020 compared to 2019 owing to coronavirus disruptions and U.S. tariffs.
The big picture: A larger trade deficit subtracts