Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Los Angeles, which remains the U.S.’s busiest port, reported the fourth-best year on record in 2020. Specifically, the Port of Los Angeles handled 9.2 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs. As reported by the Port’s Executive Director, Gene Seroka, the Port’s container business was the “most erratic” seen to date, with volume plunging by May of 2020, but then surging in the second half of the year. In the week before Christmas, the Port of Los Angeles handled twice as much cargo as it did in the same week of 2019.

Shipping rates have increased during the pandemic due to shifting consumer habits which raised demand for various products. With widespread social distancing and lockdowns throughout the United States, individuals and families have diverted spending for certain categories, such as vacations and restaurant meals, toward purchasing physical goods. Container shipping is struggling to keep up with demand amid bottlenecks at ports across the world, affecting supply chains for everything from car parts to cosmetics and medical equipment.

Los Angeles and Long Beach remain major entryways of goods from Asia to the United States. The high demand on container shipping, including in the Port of Los Angeles, is yet another reminder of the essential nature of the maritime industry. Dock and shipyard workersmerchant mariners, container ship crewmembers, and the other men and women who run our ports remain at the front line, and allow us all to receive the goods that we need throughout these challenging times.

BOATLAW, LLP has represented merchant marinersdock and shipyard workers, and container ship crewmembers throughout the West Coast, including in CaliforniaLos Angeles, and San Francisco, for over forty years. We stand ready to help.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Maritime Executive