The Port of Los Angeles saw a less than 1 percent increase in container cargo movement last month compared to the year-ago period, though the increase was due to a large volume of empty containers heading back overseas.
The report analyzes the Southern California and national “Trade and Goods Movement” industry, related infrastructure projects, and related issues such as real estate needed for industry growth. The report delves into the specifics of LA County’s top international trading partners, including a forecast for economic activity related to trade. The report also provides analysis of employment related to this key piece of the Los Angeles County regional economy.
Southern California’s twin ports posted their third best year on record in 2014, despite port congestion and the West Coast labor dispute that affected commerce from the coast to the Inland Empire and beyond.
The world’s biggest container-shipping operators are making an expensive bet by committing billions of dollars in giant vessel orders. So far, that bet is a losing one as freight rates hover around record lows and demand for ocean shipping is weak.
The ports handled 39% of U.S. container imports in 2002; that fell to 32% by 2013, according to U.S. census data. They have lost business to competitors at a time when, overall, global trade is booming and imports are rising at all ports, including L.A. and Long Beach. . . The loss in market share represented an estimated 12,300 direct and indirect California jobs in 2013, and more than $112 million in state and local tax revenue, according to Martin’s research.
Ship traffic has returned to normal following months of congestion and backup during labor negotiations, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka told harbor commissioners today.
Steve Gardner’s yard, where 90 additional containers of frozen foods and California agriculture sit, is an example of what can go wrong with what academics and economists call the goods movement industry. In Southern California, it’s a multimillion dollar industry that employs tens of thousands of workers, and is rife with congestion problems that’s slowing the region’s economy.
The labor strife not only slowed shipments through the enormous facility and its network of trains and trucks that transport goods throughout the country, it also created an opening for competitors to show that they could fill the void. As containers sat and goods spoiled during the port slowdown in California in January and February, the ports along the Gulf of Mexico and on the East Coast took advantage by stepping up to handle the cargo with greater efficiency.
Together with officials from the adjacent Port of Los Angeles, “we will look at every possible way to improve that system,” Slangerup said in an interview last week. “The goal is to cut costs and improve speed. When we are done, it will revolutionize the entire marine supply chain.”
According to the Teamsters, the job action this week delayed the movement of goods for major retailers because most terminals did not accept trucks from the four companies.
But the floating behemoths are overwhelming many U.S. ports that weren’t built to handle such supersize ships. Of the 10 busiest U.S. ports by container volume, as calculated by the American Association of Port Authorities, at least seven are grappling regularly with congestion.
If dockworkers honor those lines, the flow of goods could grind to a halt. However, when dockworkers stopped work during previous trucker strikes, they were quickly ordered back by an arbitrator.
Key issues in the strike include Teamsters’ contention that drivers should be classified as full-fledged employees of trucking firms and the union’s allegation that drivers are not receiving the full amounts of wages they are owed.
Truck drivers who haul goods from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will vote today whether to launch another strike beginning as early as Monday morning, union officials announced Friday.