Calculated Risk: LA Port Traffic: Steady in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/14/2022 04:03:00 PM

Notes: The expansion to the Panama Canal was completed in 2016 (As I noted a few years ago), and some of the traffic that used the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is probably going through the canal. This might be impacting TEUs on the West Coast.

Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported – and usually some hints about the trade report since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation’s container port traffic.

The following graphs are for inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in TEUs (TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container).

To remove the strong seasonal component for inbound traffic, the first graph shows the rolling 12-month average.

Click on graph for larger image.

On a rolling 12-month basis, inbound traffic was declines 0.4% in May compared to the rolling 12 months ending in April.   Outbound traffic was down 0.1% compared to the rolling 12 months ending the previous month.

The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).

LA Area Port TrafficUsually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year.

Imports were down 4% YoY in May, and exports were down 1% YoY.  Note that May 2021 saw the most import traffic ever.

There is no impact – yet – on inbound traffic due to the shutdown in China.