by Bill McBride on 12/17/2012 11:51:00 AM
Monday, December 17, 2012
Note: Clerical workers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles went on strike starting Nov 27th and ending Dec 5th. The strike impacted port traffic for November, but traffic is expected to bounce back in December. The strike happened after the holiday shipping period, so the slowdown isn't expected to impact holiday related shopping.
I've been following port traffic for some time. Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported - and possibly some hints about the trade report for November. LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic. Some of the LA traffic was routed to other ports, so this data might not be very useful this month.
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, both inbound and outbound traffic are down slightly compared to the 12 months ending in October.
In general, inbound and outbound traffic has been mostly moving sideways recently.
The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).
For the month of November, loaded outbound traffic was down 7.5% compared to November 2011, and loaded inbound traffic was down 3% compared to November 2011.
Usually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, so some decline in November was expected.