It was a very good year for ports on both sides of the country in terms of the total number and volume of containers handled in 2016. In most cases, those figures showed a marked – sometimes record-breaking – increase. This blog will look at statistics that bear this out.
Ports in the West
Let’s start on the West Coast, with the Port of Los Angeles. According to data from the American Association of Port Authorities, the Port of Los Angeles set a record for the busiest year ever for a container port in the Western Hemisphere.
How busy? The LA terminals handled 8,856,782 industry-standard 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2016. That’s not only an 8.5% gain over 2015, it also bests the previous record set in 2006 and marks the sixth time in 10 years that the port passed the 8-million mark. No other port in North America has ever surpassed that milestone.
On the other hand, the Port of Long Beach was negatively impacted by the bankruptcy in August of the Hanjin Shipping Company. And it’s no wonder. Before its bankruptcy, Hanjin accounted for 12.3% of the total container volume at the Port of Long Beach. As a result of Hanjin’s disappearance from the market, the Port of Long Beach saw a 5.8% drop from the year before in the total TEUs processed. Nonetheless, it’s likely that it will remain the second-busiest port in North America, thanks, at least in part, to a deal in December to allow the Mediterranean Shipping Co. to take sole control of Hanjin’s long-term lease.
In Northern California. The Port of Oakland enjoyed a strong year in container volume. It didn’t set any new records, but it did process 2,369,641 TEUs – a 4% increase in total volume (full and empty containers) from 2015.
Ports in the East
On the East Coast, the South Carolina Port Authority reported record-setting container volume. In 2016, it handled 1.996 million TEU’s, squeaking by a record of 1.985 million TEUs set back in in 2005. Container volume in TEU was up 1.2 percent compared to 2015.
The Port of Virginia also set a new annual record for container volume with 2,655,705 TEUs. But the good news doesn’t stop there. Imports, it reported, were up 6% from 2015 figures, and exports increased 2.6%.
Overall, East Coast ports enjoyed an increase in container volume, though the Port of New York and New Jersey felt the effects of the Hanjn bankruptcy and the labor problems of 2014-2015 on the West Coast.
Good news for the economy
Griff Lynch, Executive Director at the Port of Savannah, suggested that the rise in container volume reflects overall improvements in market conditions. “An increasing demand for America’s exports abroad and strong consumer confidence here at home are helping to boost cargo throughput,” Lynch said.