2022 Cargo Volumes Down at Major West Coast Seaports: PMSA Data

A drayage truck passes a dockworker at the Long Beach Container Terminal. Photo: Mark Nero.

The U.S. West Coast’s five major seaports collectively saw their total volumes fall in 2022, while total volumes rose at major U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association’s latest West Coast Trade Report, released Feb. 23.

West Coast’s Big Five – the Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Port of Oakland and the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma – saw total cargo numbers drop 5.6% (-1,480,468 TEUs), while East Coast ports rose by a combined 3.7% (+989,111 TEUs) and three Gulf Coast ports gained a combined 11.8% (+534,299 TEUs) last year, according to the report.

Combined, the LA and Long Beach ports processed 5.1% fewer loaded and empty containers in 2022 than in 2021 but were up 9.9% from 2020. Imports in 2022 dropped 7.5% from 2021 but rose 5.8% in 2020. Loaded exports for 2022 dipped 0.8% from 2021 and 13.5% from 2020.

In Oakland, the port’s inbound loads fell 6.1% from 2021 and were down 0.5% from 2020. Total container volumes in 2022 fell 4.5% from 2021. 

“Oakland officials attributed the drop in inbound loads to high levels of domestic inventories curbing demand for new imports,” the report stated. 

The NWSA saw 2022 imports down 14.1% from 2021 but up 0.4% from 2020, while export loads for 2022 were down 19.7% from 2021 and down 29.7% from 2020. Total container numbers for 2022 fell by 9.4% from 2021, according to the report.

By Karen Robes Meeks