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L.A. Port Traffic Up in 2012

Container traffic at the Port of Los Angeles, an important metric of the region’s economy, was up 6.5 percent during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to data released last week.

The increase was bolstered by an 8.8 percent jump in container volume at the port as of June 2012, compared to the prior-year period.
Imports were up by about 20,000 containers over June 2011, and exports rose by about 11,300 containers, or 6.9 percent.

International trade is considered a major economic engine in Southern California. There were 157,200 export-oriented trade jobs in Los Angeles County in 2010, according to a May report on international trade by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).

“We’re cautious about the next six months,” Port of Los Angeles Media Relations Director Phillip Sanfield said. “Consumer spending has been off the last couple of months, just as we’re going into peak shipping season.”

Late summer and early fall is traditionally when most goods come into the L.A. port complex, which includes the Port of Long Beach, for the holiday season.

“Those are the goods that are on the retailers’ shelves in December. We’re looking at modest year-over-year increases over the next six months,” Sanfield said.

Both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are vigorously upgrading and expanding their facilities in an effort to compete with ports on the East Coast after a widening of the Panama Canal is finished in 2014, allowing easier passage of bigger ships from Asia to the East Coast.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex ranked eighth in the world in 2011, down two spots from 2010. It was the only port in the top 10 to see a decline in cargo traffic that year, according to the LAEDC report.

Shanghai, China, the world’s top port, did nearly twice the traffic of Los Angeles-Long Beach in 2011.