A truck backs a container into a tight space on Pier T at the Port of Long Beach Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

May proved to be another big month for the Port of Long Beach.

A total of 890,989 20-foot equivalent units—the standard measure for a shipping container—were processed at the port last month, which is the busiest month so far this year and the second busiest month in the port’s history.

Only May 2021 saw more cargo come through the port in its 111-year history. Compared to 2021, exports this May were down 12.6% at 118,234 TEUs, an amount that was also lower than April’s export totals.

Imports were down 1.7% from last May, at 436,977 TEUs. However, that number was 2.2% higher than the imports tallied this March, which was previously this year’s busiest month for imports.

Empty containers were the only metric to increase from last May, with 335,778 TEUs this year—2.6% more than in May 2021. It also represents the largest number of empty containers that have moved through the port this year, surpassing the 310,094 empty TEUs processed in March.

Port officials hope that the continued trend of increased cargo volume this year is a sign that China has begun its post-pandemic recovery. After a record-breaking first quarter to start the year, the port has moved 4,172,366 TEUs over the first five months of 2022, a 3.5% increase from the same period in 2021.

The budget for the port reflects this optimism, as officials cited cargo traffic projections as the impetus for a 10% budget increase next fiscal year. The port is anticipating an influx of cargo as pandemic restrictions in China are lifted.

“We are moving an extraordinary amount of cargo and continue to work with industry partners to quickly move imports and empties off the docks,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement. “Looking ahead, we are ready for the traditional summertime surge to coincide with China’s recovery from a lengthy lockdown.”

Christian May-Suzuki

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.