If you wonder why Econintersect spends so much time analyzing transport – it is because it literally is the blood vessels of the economy. If it slows, the economy will slow. Portions of these economic pulse points can lead retail level sales by several months.
Container traffic through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is up 5% for imports and 5.4% for exports YoY in May 2011.
So far in May 2011:
- Rail Traffic is Up 3.6% YoY (analysis here)
- Diesel Use for transport vehicles is up 2% YoY (analysis here)
The Ports of LA and Long Beach account for much 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.
Exports have been at record levels for six of the last 8 months – although this month they were not at record levels and were well below May 2008 levels.
Containers come in many sizes so a uniform method is expressing the volume of containers is TEU – which is the volume of a standard 20 foot long sea container. So a standard 40 foot container would be 2 TEU.
Overall, counting things is showing the economy is still improving.
May 2011 Diesel Use Suggests Economy Was Slowing (or Not) by Steven Hansen
Container Imports & Exports Grow in April 2011 by Steven Hansen
Railroad Data Suggests No Economic Growth in May 2011 by Steven Hansen
Trucking Tonnage Less Good in April 2011 by GEI News