State of the Middle Class

U.S. Trade

From a trade standpoint, the U.S. moved from a formerly consistent producer and net-exporter of goods to a dependable net-importer of goods.

The charts below show that we import billions of dollars of products each month from our major global competitors, such as China, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, as well as from our regional competitors, Mexico and Canada. With China alone, the U.S. has net imports totaling roughly $7 trillion since 1985.

The U.S. continues to import many of its critical goods, including microchips, pharmaceuticals, and even tractors. This represents a shift in power where we’re strengthening competitors like China and enabling them to be technologically dominant.

The data in the charts that follow shows that the change from net-exporter of goods to net-importer sets us up for vulnerability as a nation on many levels.

The United States has had roughly
in net imports since 1985

Cumulative U.S. Goods Trade Balance: 1940 – May 2024 (Trillions of USD)

YearCumulative Goods Trade Balance
May 2024-$21.02

U.S. Goods Trade Deficit for May 2024 (Billions of USD)

CountryU.S. Goods Trade Deficit Percentage of Goods Trade Deficit
China (Mainland)$24.123.5%
South Korea$6.46.3%

Cumulative U.S. Goods Trade Balance by Country: 1985 – May 2024 (Trillions of USD)

Country  Cumulative Goods Trade Balance
China (Mainland) -$6.91
Japan  -$2.51
Mexico  -$1.79
Germany  -$1.53
Canada  -$1.29
Ireland  -$0.79
South Korea-$0.56

Five Largest U.S. Trade Deficits by Product - 2023 (Billions of USD)

Motor cars and other motor vehicles (HS8703)-$147.25
Telephone sets (HS8517)-$81.01
Automatic data processing machines (including chips) (HS8471)-$73.54
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (HS2709)-$55.27
Medicaments (HS3004)-$52.92
Top 5 Deficits – The top five items that the US purchased more than they sold. The Blue Collar Dollar Institute utilizes trade queries provided by the WITS and SITC trade codes to calculate trade deficits.

Five Largest U.S. Trade Surpluses by Product - 2023 (Billions of USD)

Petroleum Gases & Other Gaseous Hydrocarbons (HS2711)$51.54
Petroleum Oils and oils from bituminous minerals (HS2710)$43.86
Soya beans, whether or not broken (HS1201)$27.48
Coal; briquettes, oviods and similar solid fuels (HS2701)$14.81
Maize (corn) (HS1005)$13.25
Top 5 Surpluses – The top five items that the US sold more than they purchased. The Blue Collar Dollar Institute utilizes trade queries provided by the WITS and SITC trade codes to calculate trade surpluses.

Largest U.S. Trade Deficits with China by Product (2023)

Product Deficit (Billions of USD) 
Telphone sets / telephones-$55.5
Automatic data processing machines (including chips)-$39.3
Electronic Accumulators-$15.8
Toys, Tricycles & Scooters-$13.0
Video Game Consoles & Machines-$10.8

Largest U.S. Trade Surpluses with China by Product (2023)

Product Surplus (Billions of USD) 
Soya Beans$15.2
Oils; petroleum and oils obtained from bituminous minerals $8.9
Petroleum Gases$4.5
Machines and apparatus used to make semiconductors $3.4

Largest Global Importers of Tractors in 2023 (Millions of USD)

Nation Imports 
United States $19,633.63
United Kingdom$3,573.05

U.S. Exports of Semiconductors, Computer Chips, and Parts Thereof (Millions of USD)

Year China, Mainland U.S. 
1990 $127.61   $11,401.38  
2000 $4,489.89   $45,197.76
2010 $62,416.26  $31,618.56
2020 $153,789.36  $27,576.80 

U.S. Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Imports by Weight in 2023 (Kilograms)

Country Total Import Weight % of All Pharma Imports to the U.S. 
In 2022, the United States imported roughly 134,000 tons of medicinal and pharmaceutical products from China.

Additionally, 90+% of all Antibiotics in the USA come from China, which poses a significant risk to our national security. (NY Times, 2020)

In case of war, the U.S. would not be able to survive without access to these critical goods.
Cumulative Manufacturing Trade Balance
Largest Deficits
Largest Surpluses
Largest Global Importers of Tractors
Exports of Semiconductors, Computer Chips, and Parts
U.S. Pharmaceutical and Medicine Imports by Weight