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Cargo containers pile up at a marine terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.

Cargo containers piled up at a marine terminal at the Port of Los Angeles in March 2022. Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles Reports Its Third-Busiest Month Ever in March

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1972
April 12, 2022

The Port of Los Angeles recorded its third-busiest month ever last month as work continues to clear marine terminals of cargo and reduce the number of ships waiting at sea.

The Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday reported processing 958,674 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in March, marking a third consecutive monthly cargo record for the nation’s top container port.

The final numbers mean March 2022 is now the third-best month ever for L.A., just behind the record 1,012,048 TEUs handled in May 2021 and 980,729 TEUs in October 2020.

With last month’s numbers, the Port of Los Angeles has now marked its best first quarter ever this year, tracking 3.5% ahead of the previous record set last year in 2021.

Announcing the monthly data, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Serok said March 2022 loaded imports reached 495,196 TEUs, an increase of 1% compared to same month in 2021. Loaded exports came in at 11,781 TEUs, a 9% decrease compared to the same period last year. xports have now declined 37 of the last 41 months in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, empty containers shipped overseas climbed to 351,697 TEUs, a jump of 2% compared to last year.

Three months into 2022, overall cargo volume has now reached 2,682,034 TEUs, making for a 3.5% increase compared to 2021.

“With improved fluidity on our docks and fewer vessels waiting to enter the port, our terminals are processing cargo at record levels,” said Seroka. “Yet we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re using our Port Optimizer data to find developing issues and adjust to market demands. We will keep working at this every day.”

Meanwhile, the latest dwell time report from the Port of Los Angeles showed 65,185 imported containers in marine terminals, a decrease of 31% compared to October 24, 2021 when it announced penalties for aging import containers. Of the 65,000, a little over 20,000 have dwelled for 9+ days, representing a decrease of 46% over the same period.

Looking at the backup of ships the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, which includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported this week there are 44 containerships in the arrival queue, down from a record of 109 in early January. The 44 includes 39 waiting or “slow steaming” or loitering in the Pacific outside the Safety and Air Quality Area (SAQA), plus five at the port’s anchorages.

The chart below from the Marine Exchange shows the backup, in grey, peaking January 9th and ticking up with the most recent reporting. You can see the backup grew steadily from June 2021, the month following last May’s all-time record, through the end of the year.

Credit: Marine Exchange of Southern California

Seroka announced the latest cargo data during a media briefing which included his interview with International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) President Willie Adams and ILWU Coast Committeeman Frank Ponce De Leon, during which they discussed a range of topics including upcoming contract negotiations which have major implications for the nation’s supply chains in the coming the months.

In other news today: South Carolina’s Port of Charleston sets its latest monthly cargo record in March.

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