A 0.7 percent year-over-year decline of U.S imports in May and the second-best month ever for the exports of goods and services helped pull the U.S. trade deficit down 3.8 percent from April to $48.7 billion.
Exports of manufactured goods, particularly transportation equipment, have been key to driving down the trade deficit, according to the Commerce Department. Manufactured exports in the first five months of 2012 rose 9 percent year-over-year to $556.5 billion. The U.S. manufacturing might be slowing, however, as a key index of production shrank for the first time in June.
“U.S. exports posted their second-highest level on record in May despite some tough economic conditions abroad, confirming the progress we are making on the path to achieving the president’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014,” Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said. “We are on track toward exceeding last year’s export total of $2.1 trillion, which supported 9.7 million jobs."
Transportation equipment, including aerospace products, motor vehicles and railroad rolling stock, accounted for $218 billion of U.S. exports in 2011, the largest category of merchandise exports. Nearly half of all transportation equipment exports were shipped to U.S. trade agreement partners.
The lower average price for imported crude oil also aided in lowering the trade deficit, as oil fetched on average $107.91 a barrel in May, a $2.04 decrease from the average price in April.