The nation's largest seaport complex handled unexpectedly strong cargo traffic in August, particularly in imports from Asia, defying economists' predictions that its numbers had peaked in July and would head lower for the remainder of the year.
The Port of Los Angeles, which ranks first in the nation in cargo container traffic, moved 23% more containers filled with imported goods than in August 2009, during the depths of the global recession. More important, perhaps, it was also an 8% increase from the port's July import numbers, which had been the best of the year.
"The Port of Los Angeles is continuing to experience a strong third quarter for 2010 container imports," said Rachel Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Port of Los Angeles. "Imports were up again in August, mostly due to calls from larger vessels at most of our container terminals."
At the neighboring Port of Long Beach, which ranks second in the U.S. in cargo traffic, import numbers were similar to those posted by Los Angeles, with an increase of more than 24% from August 2009.
"Our monthly import totals were very close to the peak levels of 2006-2007," spokesman Art Wong said.
Import increases for August were recorded across the U.S., according to a recent report on global trade from New York-based Panjiva Inc., which tracks that information for an international client base.
"The number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 4% month-over-month increase from July to August," the Panjiva report said.
For the Port of Los Angeles, 399,151 import containers were handled in August, compared with 323,629 during the same month the previous year. In July, the port handled 369,389 import containers. Exports were down slightly in August, to 147,609 containers from 150,342 during the same month last year. It was still a slight increase from the 146,369 export containers moved in July of this year.
Overall, Los Angeles handled 763,837containers in August, including empties, an increase of nearly 25% overall compared with last year. In July, the port moved 730,736 containers. During the first eight months of the year, the Port of Los Angeles handled almost 5.2 million containers, up nearly 18% from the same period in 2009. Final numbers for August were not available from the Port of Long Beach.
Long Beach reported an overall cargo traffic increase of nearly 24% in August to 611,002 containers, up from 493,339 in the same month a year earlier and up 4% from July. That figure included a rise of more than 24% in imports to 311,240, up from 249,920 a year earlier. Through August, cargo traffic at Long Beach is up more than 22% overall to 4 million containers, compared with the same period last year.