FILE PHOTO: The port of Long Beach is shown as a record number of cargo container ships wait to unload in Long Beach, California, U.S., September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Despite Headwinds, Port of Long Beach Closes Busiest Quarter on Record

Mike Schuler
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July 13, 2022

The Port of Long Beach reported its most active June, boosted by increased consumer demand as retailers stock shelves for back-to-school shopping. The month capped the port’s strongest quarter on record in Q2, marking two consecutive quarters of record setting cargo volumes despite headwinds from inflation and fears of a looming recession.

Long Beach joins its neighbor at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, the Port of Angeles, in setting new monthly records in June.

Dockworkers and terminal operators at the Port of Long Beach moved 835,412 TEU in June, up 15.3% from the same month last year and surpassing the previous record set in June 2018 by 83,224 TEUs. Imports rose 16.4% to 415,677 TEUs, while exports saw a 1.4% decrease to 115,303 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the port jumped 21.6% to 304,433 TEUs.

More busy months are anticipated ahead.

“We are anticipating a robust summer season as consumer demand continues to drive cargo to our docks,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We expect to remain moderately busy in the coming months, and we will work to promptly process containers lingering at the Port.”

“Our waterfront workforce continues to move cargo at a record-setting pace,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “Our strong partnerships with labor and industry continue to make us a leader in trans-Pacific trade.”

The monthly figures come after the amount of aging cargo at the Port of Long Beach surpassed late October levels when the San Pedro Bay ports first announced the Container Dwell Fee for aging cargo. Both Los Angeles and Long Beach have continued to postpone charging the fee.

As of today, more than 25,000 containers have been sitting on Port of Long Beach docks for nine days or more, with another 27,000 at the Port of Los Angeles.

The Port of Long Beach said June’s cargo influx arrived as pandemic-induced shutdowns were lifted in China, retailers stocked up on back-to-school supplies and continued “robust” consumer demand despite inflation and the potential threat of an economic recession next year. Consumer spending is anticipated to remain strong through the end of this year due to the healthy job market, but rising costs for food, gasoline, utilities and other goods are delivering a blow to consumer confidence, the port said.

Looking at the first half of the year, Long Beach has moved 5,007,778 TEUs, up 5.3% from 2021’s record setting pace. The second quarter also marked the port’s best quarter overall with 2,547,119 TEUs moved from April 1 to June 30, breaking the previous record set during the first quarter of 2022 by 86,460 TEUs.

With West Coast rail congestion building and dock and rail worker labor negotiations already overtime, the weeks and months ahead will continue to be something to watch.

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