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Port of Long Beach May container volumes down 14.9%, signs of improvement

Port of Long Beach Containers in the Port of Long beach
The rate of cargo volume decline at the Port of Long Beach year-on-year is slowing and was down 14.9% in May.

In a sign that container volumes at the US West Coast gateway Port of Long Beach have turned the corner it reported a volume of 758,222 teu handled in May this year down 14.9% on the same month in 2022.

While still a sharp drop compared to the same time in 2022 volumes this year are starting to trend upwards month-on-month, and the rate of decline versus record volumes reported in 2022 is also slowing.

The 14.9% dip in container volumes in May 2023, compared to a 30% plunge in throughput the port saw in Q1 this year versus the same quarter in 2022.

In signs of a positive trend in recent months container volume in May was up 15.6% from April, which was 8.6% more than March.

“At mid-year we’re starting to see signs that cargo volume is on the upswing, with our busiest month since August of last year,” said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Officer Mario Cordero. “We look forward to more positive signs in the months ahead.”

Overall though box volumes for the first five months of 2023 were down 24.8% on the same period in 2022.

As port sees sign of volume recovery growing conflict between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and employers under the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) could yet derail improvements. Ports and terminals in the US West Coast are increasingly being hit work slowdowns and other actions as frustrations grow in negotiations for a new labour agreement.

The previous contract between longshoremen and US West Coast ports expired on 1 July 2022, and negotiations on a potential new deal have dragged on since 10 May 2022 with few signs of progress.