Cargo shipments through the Port of Long Beach grew for the third straight month in May, but the total was still down more than 20 percent from a year ago, according to figures released by the port.

Last month, 419,555 cargo container units, or TEUs, moved through Long Beach terminals, up from 408,705 in April but down from May 2008, when 529,011 TEUs passed through the harbor.

"Reflecting the general economic slowdown, these numbers show that trade between the U.S. and the Far East remains weak," said Port of Long Beach spokesman Art Wong.

Although trade is down, the numbers are not as dramatic as they were in February when container traffic in Long Beach was off 40 percent from year-ago levels. Even worse, imports were down 43 percent, shrinking to levels not seen in five years.

Since then, imports have risen nearly 40 percent to 208,591 TEUs in May, indicating international trade is making a gradual comeback.

The Port of Los Angeles has not yet released its May cargo movement figures.

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