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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LA Area Port Traffic in August

by Calculated Risk on 9/15/2009 05:15:00 PM

Note: this is not seasonally adjusted. There is a very distinct seasonal pattern for imports, but not for exports.

Sometimes port traffic gives us an early hint of changes in the trade deficit. The following graph shows the loaded 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). Although containers tell us nothing about value, container traffic does give us an idea of the volume of goods being exported and imported.

LA Area Port Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Inbound traffic was 14.5% below August 2008.

Outbound traffic was 16.2% below August 2008.

There has been a clear recovery in U.S. exports (the year-over-year comparison was off 30% from December through February). And export traffic, at the LA area ports, is at the August 2007 level.

However, for imports, traffic is at the August 2003 level, and 2009 will probably be the weakest year for import traffic since 2002.

Note: Imports usually peak in the August through October period (as retailers import goods for the holidays) and then decline in November.