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California Trade Report for April 2020

Below are highlights from the recently released trade data from the US Census Bureau and US Bureau of Economic Analysis, which incorporates revisions to the monthly data beginning in 2015. To view additional data and analysis related to the California economy visit our website at www.centerforjobs.org/ca.

The April data continues to reflect the downturn in the economy stemming from the global supply disruptions that began with the closures in China, but now reflecting a gradual resumption of trade activity. As shown in the table below, goods trade with China, Hong Kong, and Macau through the state’s ports was down 10.3% from the year earlier, a marked improvement from the March slide of 34.0%, but with imports still showing depressed levels.

Share of Goods through US Ports

CA Share of Total Trade Through US Ports

The share of total US goods trade (exports and imports) through California ports edged up to 17.35% (12 month moving average; compared to 17.23% in Mar 2020 and 18.02% in Apr 2019).

California remained in second place, behind Texas with 17.8% (compared to 18.06% in Mar 2020 and 17.69% in Apr 2019). Trade through the Atlantic port states was at 30.02% (compared to 29.86% in Mar 2020 and 29.52% in Apr 2019). Even as the trade activity lead has again moved to Texas, the trade-related base continues to be one of California’s largest centers of middle-class, blue-collar jobs. Transportation & Warehousing alone provided 593,700 jobs in Apr (down from 622,000 in Apr 2019), paying an average annual salary of $62.0k. This employment base in turn supports additional blue-collar and white-collar jobs in a range of other industries.

California Goods Exports Decrease

Billion in Exports

Total California goods exports were down $3.7 billion from Apr 2019 (down 26.5%). California remained in 2nd place with 10.52% of all US goods exports (12 month moving total), behind Texas at 20.38%.

California's Balance for Goods Trade

Billion of Goods Trade

California’s balance of goods trade activity through state businesses narrowed to -$16.2 billion, compared to a level of -$18.5 billion in Apr 2019. California trade accounted for 23% of the US trade deficit in goods in Apr 2020.

Top 20 Exports, April 2020

Top 20 exports by value are shown below, along with the change from Apr 2019.

By shipping weight (vessel and air total), the leading export was Petroleum & Coal Products at 1.2 billion kg (34% of total exports), followed by Waste & Scrap at 0.9 billion kg (27%), and Other Agricultural Products at 0.2 billion kg (6%).

Top 10 Export Markets, April 2020