North American shipment volume jumped up in February, while total freight expenditures reversed a three- month slump. The problems caused by labor negotiations on the West Coast have contributed to an economic slowdown for most of the first quarter. The two sides in the ILWU contract negotiations have come to terms, but not yet ratified them, which will open the floodgates to moving the backlogged freight. The Port of L.A. estimates that it will take three months to return to normal. Meanwhile congestion and capacity will be the industry’s buzzwords.
The Houston Ship Channel is still closed following a collision yesterday between two ships.
The ship channel is expected to remain closed until the U.S. Coast Guard has the situation under control. Officials at Morgan’s Point was lifted overnight.
Some economic indicators have not bounced back as well as others in the recovery from the Great Recession, but trucking is doing well, and a capacity crunch leads economic expert John Larkin to project truckload rates to rise 3 to 5% this year overall.
Larkin, managing director and transportation expert for investment firm Stifel, Nicolaus, offered an economic outlook Tuesday morning during the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting in Kissimmee, Fla.
Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to rise an unusually high 16.9 percent this month over the same time last year as West Coast ports begin to dig out from a backlog of cargo that built up during just-concluded contract negotiations with dockworkers, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
Efforts to eliminate a cargo backlog at the Port of Oakland are meeting with success. The Port said today gains in container movement are visible from ship to shore. The signs include:
February saw freight volume drop 37% year-over-year and spot market freight availability decline for the second consecutive month — yet rates were up year over year, according to the latest DAT North American Freight Index.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 295,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 5.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Job gains occurred in food services and drinking places, professional and business services, construction, health care, and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in mining was down over the month.
The top officials at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said that it would take three months to clear the thousands of containers left stranded on nearly two dozen ships — the product of epic congestion exacerbated by contentious labor talks between dockworkers and management.
Expected post-Lunar New Year cargo growth will accelerate equipment, cargo handling and other costs going forward.
While the full impact on ocean carrier deployments to U.S. West Coat ports has yet to be measured, major players comprising the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) are standing firm on raising rates.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the 26th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 69th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.