US taste for imports drives 2021 trade gap to record $859B

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit soared to a record $859.1 billion last year as American consumers splurged on foreign-made electronics, toys and clothing, fallout from the economy’s unexpectedly robust recovery from a short but nasty 2020 pandemic recession.

The trade gap — the difference between what the United States sells and what it buys from foreign countries — surged 27% last year from $676.7 billion in 2020.

U.S. exports rose 18% — to more than $2.5 trillion. But imports rose more – climbing 21% to nearly $3.4 trillion.

Stuck at home, consumers loaded on goods — cellphones, yard equipment, furniture. Government relief checks gave them the financial wherewithal to do so.