The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest seaport, said today it handled 730,306 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of containerized cargo in September, a 5.8-percent drop from very strong levels in September 2014.
Loaded imports last month declined 9.4 percent year-over-year, to 383,963 TEUs. Loaded exports fell 17.5 percent, to 124,286 TEUs. The movement of empty containers rose 9.4 percent year-over-year.
For the first nine months of 2015, total volume of slightly less than 6.12 million TEUs was down 2.9 percent from the same period in 2014, the port said.
Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the port, said last month's decline was due to tough comparisons with September 2014 volumes, which came in at 775,000 TEUs. It was not related to the impact of the 11-month labor-management impasse at 29 West Coast ports that led U.S. businesses to divert their cargoes away from ports like Los Angeles, according to Sanfield. He added that part of the strong September 2014 volumes was likely due to importers advancing their October deliveries by one month to stay ahead of the labor strife, which erupted in earnest in late October.
The dispute ended in February of this year with a new five-year collective bargaining agreement between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing port management, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the bargaining unit for workers at the ports. While some diverted cargoes have returned to West Coast ports since the impasse ended, others have not (see infographic). "While we fell short of last September's exceptional volume of 775,000 TEUs, I'm encouraged by the productivity our terminals and supply chain partners have demonstrated over the past six months," said Port of Los Angeles director Gene Seroka in a statement.
September and October are traditionally the port's strongest months. It handled 711,000 TEUs in September 2013, and nearly 745,000 TEUs in September 2012.