Los Angeles’ total throughput for October came in at 678,429 twenty-foot equivalent units, down 25% versus October 2021.
Imports totaled 336,307 TEUs, down 28% year on year.
It was the lowest October import tally since 2009 amid the global financial crisis and the lowest monthly imports since May 2020 at the height of the COVID lockdowns. This October’s imports were down 14% from October 2019 prior to the pandemic.
On a positive note, the huge month-on-month slide seen in Los Angeles in September has slowed. Imports fell 15% in September versus August. October’s imports declined only 7,155 TEUs (i.e., a single shipload) or 2% versus September.
During Tuesday’s news conference, the Port of Los Angeles Executive Director said carriers “blanked” (canceled) 20 sailings in October, removing about 25% of normal service. An additional 20 sailings have been blanked in November and December combined.
“November numbers will be soft, and so will December,” the Port of Los Angeles acknowledged.
‘We need to get labor peace’
the Port of Los Angeles blamed “the steep decline” on three factors: a lack of a West Coast port labor contract, an early peak season and lower consumer spending on durables compared to purchases during the pandemic.
Both the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Mayor repeatedly highlighted the labor issue during the news conference. The previous West Coast port labor agreement expired on July 1.
The Port of Los Angeles said that he has been on a “whistlestop tour” and “knocking on doors,” speaking to shippers and carriers in the U.S., Asia and Europe and “looking to get that allocation back to Los Angeles.” But he admitted that “it starts with getting a labor agreement … where they can feel that certainty of the cargo flow and getting to market on time.”
The Los Angeles Mayor stressed “we need to get labor peace and an agreement done.” However, he insisted “there will not be a strike. I don’t say this as someone trying to market [Los Angeles], but the remaining issues are so much more minor than in past years when we’ve been able to resolve this.”
Regarding the cargo shift to the East Coast and the Port of New York/New Jersey recently unseating Los Angeles as America’s busiest port, The Port of Los Angeles said, “We’ve been in the No. 1 position here for 22 consecutive years, and one or two months [in second place] is not going to create a trend. Our dwell times have improved and the ship backlog is nearly gone. We’re eager to ramp volume back up.”