American Shipper

U.S. February port volume up 14.9%, July to see all-time high

U.S. February port volume up 14.9%, July to see all-time high

The National Retail Federation and Global Insight are projecting that container traffic at U.S. ports, including New York-New Jersey terminals, should hit an all-time high in July, according to the two organizations' monthly Port Tracker report released Tuesday. The report also said that February container volumes were up 14.9 percent from the same month in 2006.

   'Monthly container volumes through the ports are expected to increase each month from now through the summer,' Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said. 'Each month is expected to see a new record volume for that month, and July will see a new all-time record monthly volume. August is expected to top that with yet another new all-time record. Despite the volume, U.S. ports are operating without congestion and there is adequate truck and rail capacity to handle the incoming cargo.'

   All U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker — New York-New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast; Los Angeles-Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle on the West Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast — are rated 'low' for congestion, the same as last month.

   Nationwide, the ports surveyed handled 1.28 million TEUs of container traffic in February, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. February is traditionally the slowest month of the year, and the figure was down 1.1 percent from January, but up 14.9 percent from February 2006.

   Volume was expected to begin to move upward again in March, forecast at 1.36 million TEUs (up 4.7 percent from March 2006). April is forecast at 1.44 million TEUs (up 4.3 percent from April 2006), May at 1.45 million TEUs (up 6.2 percent from May 2006), June at 1.48 million TEUs (up 5.6 percent from June 2006), July at 1.55 million TEUs (up 11.4 percent from July 2006), and August at 1.59 million TEUs (up 6.7 percent from August 2006).

   The July number would be an all-time record, topping the previous record of 1.51 million TEU set last October, and the August number would set another new record. Port Tracker's forecast period is six months, so numbers beyond August are not yet estimated, but cargo volume historically continues to grow through October before starting to slow in November.