March 2021 Sea Container Imports Again Significantly Improved Pointing To A Strong Economic Recovery

The import container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rate of growth again jumped month-over-month partially due to the fact that the import data one year ago was impacted by the pandemic shutdown but still import container counts set a record for March. Exports are having the worst year since 2009.

Analyst Opinion of Container Movements

On top of a trade war and the world pandemic, import container counts continue to surge. There is chaos in container movements with containers in the wrong place and shortages of rail cars to move containers - however, the container situation again improved this month - but there continues a shortage of containers and unloading berths. This container shortage was exasperated by the Suez blockage.

Simply looking at this month versus last month, import growth improved and exports improved - exports are having their best year ever and exports the worst year since 2009

Some pundits think that the new Panama Canal locks have affected the West Coasts' container counts - our analysis is that there is little impact. Many do not understand that the new locks are more expensive per ton. HOWEVER, a new trend is developing is that ships are going around the Cape because of lower fuel prices.

Import container counts give an indication of the U.S. economy's state and the data this month is suggesting stronger economic growth.

Container data is consistent with other transport data.

This data set is based on the Ports of LA and Long Beach which account for much (approximately 40%) of the container movement into and out of the United States - and these two ports report their data significantly earlier than other USA ports. Most of the manufactured goods move between countries in sea containers (except larger rolling items such as automobiles). This pulse point is an early indicator of the health of the economy.

Consider that import final sales are added to GDP usually several months after import - while the import cost itself is subtracted from GDP in the month of import. Export final sales occur around the date of export. Container counts do not include bulk commodities such as oil or autos which are not shipped in containers. For this month:

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