Record Cargo Expected at Major U.S. Container Ports

U.S. inbound container volume is already higher than peak levels for the entire year of 2005, but the ports are running without congestion. According to the most recent Port Tracker report, a joint venture of the National Retail Federation and economic forecast firm Global Insight, ports surveyed handled 1.34 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of container traffic in May, which represented growth of 1.2% from the previous month and a 9% jump from May 2005. June's volume is expected to be 1.38 million TEU, which is above last October's 1.37 million TEU. Typically, October is the peak month of the shipping season.

There's no need for anyone to panic, according to Paul Bingham, Global Insight economist. "We should be hitting new records all summer and right up to November," he says. "Despite the volume, the ports are operating without congestion from harbor to gate and out onto the rail system. There are challenges to sustaining system performance because of the growth in volume, but we expect shippers will get through the season without significant congestion." Volume is expected to climb to its peak of 1.49 million TEU in October, up 8.7% year over year, then settle back to 1.39 million TEU in November.

The ports covered by Port Tracker are Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle on the West Coast, and New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast.

U.S. ports handling more than 1 million containers per year

2005 2004 Annual Growth
1 Los Angeles 4,864,032 4,874,730 -0.2%
2 Long Beach 4,378,446 3,764,257 16.3%
3 New York 3,387,305 3,163,197 7.1%
4 Charleston, S.C. 1,508,564 1,421,251 6.1%
5 Savannah, Ga. 1,469,237 1,290,178 13.9%
6 Oakland 1,373,769 1,197,331 14.7%
7 Seattle 1,339,469 1,049,105 27.7%
8 Norfolk, Va. 1,318,762 1,206,034 9.3%
9 Houston, Texas 1,221,541 1,097,769 11.3%
10 Tacoma, Wash. 1,154,834 940,638 22.8%
Source: State of Logistics Report
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