Soft Demand, Labor Talks Affect NWSA Cargo Numbers

Image: Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, consisting of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, saw its March cargo volumes tumble 24.6% year over year, from 901,234 TEUs in March 2022 to 679,820 TEUs last month, according to new data released April 17.

Loaded imports fell 37.2% in March, which the alliance said is a result of soft consumer demand and shippers’ uncertainty over contract talks between West Coast dockworkers and their employers.

In the months leading up to contract talks between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, shippers have been diverting their cargo to East and Gulf Coast seaports to protect themselves from potential labor disruption on the West Coast, which has reared its ugly head in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, full exports dipped 5.4% in March compared to the same month last year, but had been on the rise month to month. For example, loaded exports in March rose 13.2% over February. 

The bright spot in NWSA’s numbers were in auto volumes, which saw an 85.3% increase to 80,452 units. 

“New General Motors business coupled with (logistics service) GLOVIS America’s consolidation of its Kia and Hyundai business in our gateway from September of last year will make for favorable month-over-month comparisons in 2023,” NWSA said.

By Karen Robes Meeks