by Bill McBride on 1/21/2013 08:22:00 AM
Monday, January 21, 2013
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 and early December, but traffic bounced back quickly following the strike.
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 December. LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic. Some of the LA traffic was routed to other ports in early December, so this data might not be as 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, inbound traffic was up slightly and outbound traffic down slightly compared to the rolling 12 months ending in November.
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).
Usually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March.
For the month of December, loaded outbound traffic was down 2% compared to December 2011, and loaded inbound traffic was down 5% compared to December 2011.
Maybe outbound traffic was impacted more by the strike than inbound, but it appears the strike had little impact on overall traffic in December.