America's oil boom is shrinking the country's trade deficit and helping meet a nearly four-decade goal of stemming the rapid flow of cash overseas.
The trade gap in December dropped to a three-year low of $38.5 billion, down from $48.6 billion in November, as exports increased and imports decreased, according to data released this week from the U.S. Commerce Department and the Energy Information Administration.
For the year, the trade deficit dropped to $540 billion, improved from a shortfall of nearly $560 billion in 2011 and about $700 billion in 2005.
For decades, Americans have spent more on importing goods and services than other countries have spent on buying what we produce.
The country's dependence on foreign oil has been a key part of the equation. The oil and natural gas boom over the past five years has quickly worked to change the pattern.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank this week said the improving trade deficit has helped support the creation of more than 6 million private sector jobs over the past three years.
“This work is more important than ever — particularly with global economic headwinds affecting the rate of export growth across the board,” Blank said.