Container traffic at the Port of Los Angeles rises for the second straight month but lags ahead of the pandemic

Container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles showed improvement for the second straight month in April, although they remain below pre-pandemic levels.

In April, the Port of Los Angeles processed 688,110 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units), down 22% from the same period last year, when the port recorded its second-biggest April on record, only surpassed in April 2021.

In the first four months of this year, the Port of Los Angeles handled a total of 2,525,204 TEU, down 29% from last year’s record pace, which continued through the first half of the year. Still, the year-to-date figure is 14% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels. In fact, one would have to go back to 2015 to find a slower start to the year through April.

“A cooling global economy, warehouses laden with aging inventories and protracted West Coast labor negotiations have all contributed to a slowdown in trade,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “If the economy improves and we get an employment contract, that will help increase volume in the second half of the year. We are prepared for the next cargo surge whenever it comes.”

Breaking down the April 2023 figures, loaded imports reached 343,689 TEU, down 25% year-on-year. Loaded exports amounted to 88,202 TEU, down 12% year-on-year. In addition, 256,220 TEUs of empty containers landed, down 23% year-on-year.

Comparing March 2023 to February 2023, the Port of Los Angeles saw a significant 28% increase in cargo volume. Compared to March numbers, freight volumes increased by 10% in April.

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