Economy Week Ahead: Trade, Services, Employment

The port in Bayonne, N.J., in August, as the U.S. trade deficit likely widened.


andrew kelly/Reuters

The Labor Department’s U.S. employment report for September is the highlight of this week’s economic data.


The U.S. trade deficit likely widened slightly in August. Preliminary data showed American exports of goods hitting a record level as recoveries gained strength in other parts of the world. But imports of consumer goods and industrial supplies also picked up in August, pushing the goods deficit higher. Tuesday’s Commerce Department report will also include trade in services.

The Institute for Supply Management’s survey of purchasing managers in the service sector is expected to show activity expanding at a slower pace in September than in August. Service-sector growth hit a record pace in July but has since tapered off as consumers reacted to rising Covid-19 cases, and business operations were constrained by a tight labor market, materials shortages, rising prices and supply bottlenecks.


U.S. jobless claims climbed for three straight weeks during September, but there are signs that temporary factors inflated the tally. Economists are forecasting a drop in new applications for unemployment benefits for the week ended Oct. 2, keeping the number near a pandemic low.


It is expected that U.S. employers added jobs at a solid pace in September as the labor-market recovery got back on track. In August, hiring slowed sharply, leaving the U.S. economy with about five million fewer jobs than at the start of 2020. Businesses, meanwhile, have posted record numbers of job openings, complain they can’t find workers and are raising wages as they struggle to staff up. Economists say an end to federal Covid-related jobless benefits and reopening schools should help drive more workers back into the labor force in September.

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