Los Angeles Business Journal

Cargo Traffic Up at L.A. Port, But Down Again at Long Beach

By James Rufus Koren Originally published August 15, 2012 at 2:42 p.m., updated August 15, 2012 at 11:55 a.m.

After a hiatus in June, familiar trend reemerged at the local ports last month: growth in cargo traffic at the Los Angeles harbor, but shrinkage in neighboring Long Beach.

Figures released Wednesday show the Port of Los Angeles saw a 5.5 percent increase in cargo containers over July of last year, driven by increased imports and a big jump in the number of empty containers headed back to Asia.

But the Port of Long Beach, which reported a slight uptick in traffic in June, saw its cargo traffic fall 8.8 percent last month, with big drops in both imports and empty container moves.

The L.A. and Long Beach ports – the nation’s first and second largest, respectively – generally experience the same trends as global trade picks up or slows down. But they’ve diverged significantly this year as the Los Angeles port has posted growth in most months while Long Beach has faltered.

Through July, cargo moving through Los Angeles was up 5.5 percent this year. It’s down 6.3 percent in Long Beach. Port officials there say the uneven economic recovery has pushed more ocean shipments to bigger players that operate at the Los Angeles port, while smaller carriers that call at Long Beach have cut ship calls.