The United States’ top port for containerized imports from Asia reported its best February on record as the nation’s economy continues to bounce back from the pandemic.
The Port of Los Angeles said it processed 799,315 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) last month for a 47% jump compared to February 2020 when the world was just starting to feel the economic impact of COVID-19’s unrelenting spread.
Last month marked seven consecutive months of year-over-year increases and the strongest February on record for the Port of Los Angeles.
“One year ago global trade slowed to a crawl as the COVID-19 pandemic first hit China and then spread worldwide,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. ”Today, we are in the seventh month of an unparalleled import surge, driven by unprecedented demands by American consumers.”
February’s loaded imports at the port reached 412,884 TEUs, up nearly 54% compared to 2020. Loaded exports decreased 24.7% to 101,208 TEUs. Empty containers, heavily in demand in Asia, surged 104% compared to February 2020 reaching 285,223 TEUs. A total of 78 cargo vessels arrived in January, including four extra loaders.
The record import volume combined with operational challenges from COVID-19 has created a logjam of ships outside the congested San Pedro Bay Port complex, which includes the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. However, there have been signs of easing over the past week as dockworkers made progress reducing the backlog that peaked at 40 vessels six weeks ago.
For now, the outlook remains strong with the surge in imports expected to continue through at least first half of the year,
“Our challenges now are focused on getting port workers vaccinated and assisting stakeholders in managing this heavy flow of cargo,” Seroka added. “We will do everything we can to help get shipping lines back on schedule. It’s critical that we clear the backlog of cargo and return more certainty to the Pacific trade.”
Current and historical cargo data for the Port of Los Angeles is available here.