US ports saw record imports this spring as portworker contract expires

“Cargo volume is expected to remain high as we head into the peak shipping season, and it is essential that all ports continue to operate with minimal disruption,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for supply chain and customs policy, at the NRF.

U.S. ports handled 2.4 million (20ft) containers in May – up 2.7% from last year – setting a new record number of containers imported in a single month since the NRF announced began tracking imports in 2002 through their Global Port Tracker.

At the nation’s busiest port in Los Angeles, the port handled 967,900 containers in May, the third-best month ever. And in the first five months of this year, the Port of LA is on track to match last year’s record pace.

But despite a record number of containers – the number of cargo ships waiting to dock at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is down from its peak of 89 cargo ships drifting offshore in November 2021. As of Friday morning, 26 ships were waiting land ashore.

Thus, while congestion has eased, ground congestion is becoming a problem. The number of containers parked at the Port of Los Angeles has increased over the past 30 days – to an average of 4.3 days – and an average of 7.5 days at the dockside yard. The maximum recorded residence time is 11 days.

In October, the twin ports of LA and Long Beach announced a “container tourist tax” which was suspended until Friday. The plan is to delay the fee for a week and then review it, according to Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

Since the program was announced, the two ports have seen a combined 27% decline in cargo at the docks, according to the Port of Los Angeles. The fee would charge ocean carriers $100 per container and an additional $100 for each day the container is in port.

Adding to the stress, the current contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents around 22,000 West Coast dockworkers and port executives, expired on June 30. The union said members would continue to work during the expired contract – as negotiations continue.

“Supply chain challenges will continue throughout the year, and it’s especially important that workers and management at West Coast ports stay at the negotiating table and reach an agreement,” he said. said Gold.

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