Los Angeles, Long Beach ports have record-breaking year in 2010


The nation’s busiest seaport complex had a record-breaking year in 2010 with a new high set in exports at the Los Angeles port and the biggest year-over-year increase in overall cargo traffic at Long Beach since the port began keeping such records in 1971, officials said.

Experts said they expected a strong economic recovery to continue, although not at such a rapid pace. International trade is an important factor in the health of the Southern California economy, accounting for more than half a million jobs.

At the Port of Los Angeles, which ranks first in cargo container traffic, 7.8 million containers moved in and out during 2010, up 16% from 6.7 million a year earlier. That included a record year for exports at the port, totaling 1.84 million containers, up slightly more than 10% from 1.67 million in 2009 and surpassing the previous best of 1.78 million in 2008. Imports rose 13% to nearly 4 million containers, up from 3.5 million a year earlier.


It was an even better year for the Port of Long Beach, which ranks second in container traffic only to Los Angeles. Long Beach port shipping terminals moved a total of 6.3 million twenty-foot equivalent containers last year. The jump represented a nearly 25% gain over 2009, when the port moved fewer than 5.1 million containers. It was the largest one-year increase in port history, and the biggest gain from 2009 among the nation’s major seaports.

“With this 16% increase in 2010 container volumes, the Port of Los Angeles is putting people back to work and doing its part to help President Obama meet his goal to double national exports over the next five years,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Los Angeles port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said the year’s gains “far surpass our initial estimates. We want to continue that momentum.”

In Long Beach, port Executive Director Richard D. Steinke called 2010 “a tremendous rebound.”

“Best of all, the additional cargo has brought back thousands of port-related jobs throughout the supply chain,” Steinke said. “We’re very optimistic that the job growth in this industry will continue in 2011.”

January is expected to be a strong month for the nation’s ports, with import volumes expected to rise by 8% from a year earlier, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.


“While the economy clearly began to recover in 2010 and drove up cargo volume as retail sales improved, maintaining that momentum in 2011 could be difficult,” said Jonathan Gold, the retail group’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Consumers faced with continued high unemployment are expected to focus more on necessities than discretionary spending. Retailers will continue to carefully gauge consumer demand and adjust import levels accordingly.”

Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett predicted that “growth in the upper single-digit levels can be expected, particularly on the West Coast.”