The Port of Los Angeles continued processing record numbers of shipping containers in April, including empties necessary for maintaining the Asian supply chain.
The seaport said it was now processing vessels at a rate of 16 per day as opposed to the 10 per day it processed before this latest surge, reducing the wait time for ships at anchor.
The backlog in traffic at American ports is beginning to clear.
More encouraging is that this is the first glimpse that the backlog in traffic at American ports is beginning to clear, which will ease concerns around bottlenecks in this most important area of the American and global economies.
The growth is taking place beyond the seaport as well, as shown by the 34% increase in U.S. intermodal rail traffic (containers or tractor-trailers) compared to April 2020.
The increase in imports is a sign of growing confidence of a recovery in the consumer sector. And the increase in distribution both confirms the outsized jump in retail sales during March and April compared to last year and our forecast for sustained growth in the months ahead.
This past month was the busiest April in the port’s history, according to its executive director, Gene Seroka. After 11 consecutive months of decline, April was the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year growth, with forecasts of growth continuing in the months ahead.
The growth rate of load containers processed by the Los Angeles-area seaports during the latest three months is 32% higher compared to the same period last year. A more realistic measure of increased shipping activity, however, might be the 21% increase in loaded containers processed at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaports relative to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic and the near shutdown of Asian shipping.
The increase in imports should be tempered by the paltry number of export containers being processed by the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaports. Export containers were only 2.4% higher than the meager number of export containers in April 2020, and nearly 15% lower relative to April 2019.
A U.S. recovery is a necessary component and possibly the catalyst for a global economic recovery this year. But the quick and widespread distribution of vaccines among American trading partners will most likely be necessary for a widespread recovery among U.S. industries.
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