Ports Celebrate Strong February Numbers

Ports Celebrate Strong February Numbers

The San Pedro Bay Port Complex is comfortably settled into a rhythm, with both ports posting significant gains in February.

The Port of Los Angeles led the way with 781,434 TEUs – 20-foot equivalent units, which measures cargo volumes – in total handled last month. Dockworkers at the Port of Long Beach moved 674,723 TEUs in February. L.A.’s figures were a 60% increase from February of last year, while Long Beach’s represented a 24.1% increase.

By and large, volumes have been posting significant year-over-year gains since August, once the new labor agreement with dockworkers took hold.

“February 2023 was an unusually light month for us due to the early Lunar New Year slowdown and cargo shifting away during protracted labor negotiations,” Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said in his media briefing last week. “Still, compared to our five-year February average, imports were up a strong 20%.”

Broken down, L.A. had 408,764 TEUs of loaded imports, a 64% gain from last year. Loaded exports were at 132,755 TEUs, also a significant 61% gain. Meanwhile, Long Beach’s 329,850 import TEUs were up 29.4%, and its 87,474 loaded export TEUs were down 21.1%.

Overall, for January and February, the amount of cargo moved represents an increase of 35% and 20.7% for L.A. and Long Beach, respectively.

“Our top-notch customer service and ongoing efforts to attract business back to the West Coast are paying off,” Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero said in a statement. “We continue to invest in infrastructure projects that will keep us competitive and sustainable for decades to come.”

Midway through March, Seroka estimated that imports would lag slightly behind from January and February because of the Lunar New Year holiday giving Chinese factory workers time off. He added that L.A. was on track for around 650,000 TEUs this month.

Mario Cordero (Chris Valle Photography, POLB, SOTP)

With labor issues largely forgotten, and the ability for the ports to absorb any redirected cargo on account of various global disruptions, Seroka said he has high hopes for this year.

“Overall I like our position as we move into Q2. The market’s confidence in our gateway is as strong as it’s ever been,” he said. “Our operational data shows that cargo is flowing efficiently, and we have additional capacity available to accommodate future demands. The latest data continues to show that the U.S. economy is solid, which continues to bolster consumer confidence. A strong February jobs report, with 270,000 new jobs added, along with an uptick in retail sales, makes it clear that Americans are keeping up with their spending habits.”

While exports have increased for seven straight months in L.A., they’re offset a bit by similar declines at Long Beach. Top exports continue to be agricultural products, plastics and recycled goods.

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