Long Beach Container Terminal as seen from the Port of Los Angeles Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Still working through a backlog of vessels and containers, the Port of Long Beach moved more cargo last month than in any February in its 112-year history, officials announced Friday.

Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 796,560 20-foot-equivalent units—the standard measure of a shipping container—last month, a 3.2% increase over the same month in 2021, which was a historic high. Imports increased 4.4% to 390,335 TEUs, while exports decreased 1.2% to 117,935 TEUs.

The number of empty containers moving through the port increased 3.5% to 288,290 TEUs.

“We are moving record amounts of cargo and catching up with the ongoing surge of imports,” Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement. “Meanwhile, we are proceeding with measures we will need in the long term, such as development of our Supply Chain Information Highway data solution, which provides greater cargo visibility, connectivity and predictability.”

Operations normally would slow in February, as factories in East Asia—including China, a major trading partner for the San Pedro Bay ports—shutter for two weeks in observation of Lunar New Year. However, with the lingering supply chain crisis, the ports continue to work through a backlog of imports.

For over a year, container ships have had to wait their turn at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Twice in January, the number of container ships backed up reached 106. Most of the ships were anchored more than 40 miles off the coast thanks to efforts by several agencies to reduce environmental impacts on residents of the area.

As of Wednesday, the backlog was down to 50 vessels, only three of which were within 40 miles of the coast, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Last week, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents about 20,000 workers at 29 seaports up and down the West Coast, announced dockworkers would not handle cargo from or destined for Russia as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine, which has been under siege by Russian forces for 16 days. The move, however, is not expected to exacerbate supply chain issues due to the large number of businesses and agencies who are refusing to do business with the warring nation.

For 18 weeks, the twin ports have postponed the collection of a fee for containers that sit on docks for extended periods of time. Today, the ports announced it will be withheld another week, citing a 64% decline in the amount of aging cargo since the initial announcement on Oct. 25.

Port officials said economic activity is expected to rebound after inflation reduced consumer spending during the first quarter of the year. Inflation, now at 8%, is expected to peak at 8.1% this month, according to a new report from Beacon Economics. By the end of the year, the Beacon report states inflation will decline to 6.8%.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Business Journal.