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California Trade Report for December 2022

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

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 was largely unchanged with a dip to 16.00% (12 month moving average; compared to 16.03% in November 2022 and 17.05% in December 2021).

California remained the #2 state, behind Texas with 19.79% (compared to 19.68% in November 2022 and 18.04% in December 2021). Trade through the Atlantic port states was at 29.58% (compared to 29.65% in November 2022 and 30.23% in December 2021).

While the critical infrastructure required to support the state’s competitive position for this economic activity continues to be under challenge, Transportation & Warehousing remains the primary middle-class wage, blue collar industry expanding in the state. Between 2007 and 2022, the historical base for this type of upward mobility job—Manufacturing—saw employment drop by 158,000. This jobs loss was more than covered by growth in Transportation & Warehousing by 331,800. The Warehouse & Storage component alone grew by 183,100. Much of this growth occurred during the recent pandemic, the sole point of expanding rather than recovering jobs in this period.

This type of job—capable of providing middle class wages to workers with a high school degree or less—is critical to any concept of equitable growth in the state’s economy. The California public schools continue to produce a large proportion of students failing to attain proficient levels in the core subjects, a situation made worse by the extended school closures during the pandemic. In the latest data from 2021-22, only 44% of the (five-year) cohort graduated with the A-G course completion required for admission to UC and CSU, while 13% failed to meet the regular graduation requirements overall (although some later will go on to complete a GED). In the latest American Community Survey data for 2021, California again had the largest share of adults age 25 and over with less than a high school education, at 15.6% compared to the US average of only 10.6%.

Transportation & Warehousing is not the only industry that can provide better paying jobs and consequently upward mobility options to these workers, but it is the only one showing substantial growth in the state. Yet as with other portions of the traditional middle class wage economy, growing costs are already pushing some of the warehouse component to other states, in particular Arizona. Port congestion, rising operating costs, and continued labor action uncertainty have also led to a shift in the underlying base for these jobs, as the share of US trade through California ports dropped from the recent high of 18.6% in February 2018, to only 16.0% in the latest data. In this period, Texas went from 16.9% to 19.8%, essentially reversing the relative position of the two states and pushing California into an increasingly distant second place.

California Goods Exports

Billion Change In Exports

Total California goods exports were up $0.8 billion in nominal terms from December 2021 (up 5.7%). In real terms, good exports were up 0.6% from December 2021, but were off 9.9% compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

California remained in 2nd place with 8.99% of all US goods exports (12 month moving total), behind Texas at 23.54%.

California Goods Imports

Billion Change In Imports

Total California destination goods imports dropped $3.8 billion in nominal terms from December 2021 (down 9.0%). In real terms, goods imports were down 12.0% from December 2021, but were up 2.6% compared to pre-pandemic December 2019.

Top 20 Exports, December 2022

Top 20 exports by value are shown below, along with the change from December 2021.

NAICS Commodity Dec 2022 Exports ($b.) Change from Dec 2021
Navigational/measuring/medical/control Instrument $1.0 16.3%
Computer Equipment 0.9 0.7%
Semiconductors & Other Electronic Components 0.9 -15.1%
Industrial Machinery 0.8 -14.3%
Fruits & Tree Nuts 0.8 2.3%
Pharmaceuticals & Medicines 0.7 -10.5%
Aerospace Products & Parts 0.7 10.4%
Communications Equipment 0.7 15.9%
Petroleum & Coal Products 0.6 94.1%
Medical Equipment & Supplies 0.5 8.3%
Miscellaneous Manufactured Commodities 0.4 -19.1%
Commercial & Service Industry Machinery 0.4 88.4%
Electrical Equipment & Components, Nesoi 0.4 8.9%
Waste & Scrap 0.4 3.5%
Basic Chemicals 0.3 29.2%
Motor Vehicles 0.3 132.9%
Other General Purpose Machinery 0.3 20.2%
Foods, Nesoi 0.2 9.0%
Other Fabricated Metal Products 0.2 11.6%
Plastics Products 0.2 -1.8%


Top 10 Export Markets, December 2022

NAICS Commodity Dec 2022 Exports ($b.) Change from Dec 2021
Mexico $2.3 6.1%
Canada 1.6 -2.7%
China 1.4 1.4%
Korea, South 1.0 21.1%
Japan 1.0 -7.5%
Taiwan 0.8 0.3%
Netherlands 0.6 5.0%
Germany 0.6 11.9%
Singapore 0.5 29.6%
Hong Kong 0.4 -28.4%