US container freight volumes fall as manufacturing contracts

US container volumes in the largest US ports fell 3.8% in September compared to September 2021, another sign of a slowdown in overall trade.

Most of the container ocean freight rotations in the United States take place in the ports of New York-New Jersey, Houston, Savannah, Charleston, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Norfolk, Seattle and Oakland. For these ports, the total container volume loaded this September was 2.67 million TEUs, compared to 2.77 million TEUs in September 2021 and 2.85 million TEUs in September 2020.

Authorities responsible for these ports blame fewer orders from manufacturers and retailers, which is not surprising given the post-Covid overstock and supply glut.

Railroads also saw similar trends, further confirming a slowdown.

As for railroads, container volume was 1.09 million TEUs in September 2022, compared to 1.14 million TEUs last September and 1.22 million TEUs in September 2020. US railroads are known to be facing challenges earlier this year confronted, even with a national strike within the realm of possibility. That strike was called off after the unions negotiated with US President Biden.

Another factor driving the slowdown is a shift from goods to services, which is being felt at all container yards as many issues such as empty containers, ship congestion on US East and West Coasts, etc. have disappeared. Government measures may also have played a role.

It’s still too early to say whether or not the US is headed for some sort of recession.

Europe is already experiencing a mild recession, mainly led by energy shortages and other problems. China has experienced a drop in production. Only time will tell if similar issues materialize in the US, but there are early signs of the overall slowdown in manufacturing/trade.

I think we all said at the beginning of the pandemic what could be worse than this virus. Now, all of us will face another annoying trouble in the not too distant future.

Leave a Comment