Volume Edges Up at US West Coast Ports

Volume Edges Up at US West Coast Ports

Washington’s ports led the U.S. West Coast in container volume growth in 2012, according to the recently-released Pacific Maritime Association annual report.

Container volume in the Seattle-Tacoma port complex increased 3.7 percent last year. About 53 percent of the containers carried imports, and 47 percent contained exports. The Washington ports accounted for 16.9 percent of all of the loaded containers handled at West Coast ports.

Container volume in Southern California increased 1 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, with 67 percent of the total being imports and 33 percent exports. The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex accounts for 70.6 percent of the container volume handled by West Coast ports.

Oakland’s container volume last year increased 0.5 percent over 2011, with 45 percent of the total being imports and 55 percent exports. Oakland’s market share on the West Coast was 11.5 percent.

Portland’s container volume declined 2 percent in 2012, with 43 percent of the volume being imports and 57 percent exports. The Oregon port accounted for 1 percent of the containers handled by West Coast ports.

West Coast ports handled a total of 15.4 million 20-foot container units in 2012, up 1.3 percent from 2011. Imports accounted for 62 percent of the total and exports 38 percent.

Container volume on the West Coast peaked in 2007 at 16 million TEUs, declined to 15.2 million TEUs in 2008, and plunged to 13.1 million TEUs in the recession year of 2009. Last year saw the second highest container volume ever after 2007.

The average full-time International Longshore and Warehouse Union general longshoreman earnings, based on 2,000 hours worked in a year, reached a new high in 2012 of $132,946, according to the PMA report. That was up from $129,392 in 2011.

ILWU marine clerks working 2,000 hours in 2012 also attained record high average earnings of $149,800. That was up from $146,162 in 2011. ILWU foremen earned a record average $206,675, up from $198,260 in 2011.

The straight-time wage as of June 30, 2012, was $34.68 per hour. Actual earnings for dockworkers can be much higher, however, as overtime pay, second and third-shift work and skill differential pay rates result in higher earnings. The current six-year contract expires on July 1, 2014.