The 20-year decline in West Coast ports’ market share of containerized cargo is accelerating amid shippers’ concern about prolonged labor negotiations, according to new research by maritime economist John Martin, PhD. He concludes that the decline poses long-term economic risks, especially for Southern California.
Looking ahead, the health of regional and state economies will depend on the ability of West Coast ports to position themselves to attract future volume and compete effectively for discretionary cargo from Asia. The stakes are high: the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach support 23.5 percent of California’s Gross Domestic Product and generated more than a quarter-million direct, induced, and indirect jobs in 2021. Each percentage-point decline in discretionary cargo at the two ports would result in the loss of 5,763 direct, induced, and indirect jobs, along with $1.4 billion of local business revenue.