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Economy in Brief

Trade Expands at Individual Ports, Shown in Extensive Data Offerings in PORTS Database
by Carol Stone July 13, 2005

In addition to the usual national trade data that Haver carries in the USECON and USINT databases, regional databases give information on foreign trade shipments into and out of various locations around the country. Some time ago, we described EXPORTSR, an annual database, and its associated monthly counterparts. These contain exports from individual states to specific countries by broad product category. We also have the PORTS database, showing the value and weight of imports and exports through various ports, by both sea and air transportation. This database covers 46 customs districts encompassing 443 ports. All of these huge quantities of data are produced by the Census Bureau and are released on the same day as the aggregate trade data.

The table below shows imports arriving at a sample of Customs Districts. Los Angeles is the largest and includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), among others. Its merchandise receipts in May were $21.6 billion, up 6.1% from a year ago. [Exports outbound from there were $6.7 billion, up 6.7%.]

In the New York area, imports were almost exactly $16.0 billion in May, up 16.5% from May 2004. An interesting aspect of New York trade is the huge value of imports that come by air through JFK Airport, as seen below, $6.5 billion in May and an average of $6.1 billion for all of last year.

At the same time, the volume of these flows in metric tons is vastly different. A rule of thumb in shipping is that items with high value per unit weight are good for air freight, while the opposite is true for sea-going trade. A quick comparison illustrates this easily. Goods coming into JFK in May weighed 53,740 metric tons, yielding a unit value of $120,077. Goods coming by ship into Port Newark were worth $7.399 billion, but they weighed 4.5 million metric tons (MT), a value per MT of just $1,638.

Monthly Averages
Customs District: Customs Value, NSA, Million $ May 2005 Apr 2005 May 2004
2004 2003 2002
Total Imports 135,542 135,257 118,271 122,475 104,760 96,780
New York total 16,000 15,331 13,736 14,800 13,070 12,161
  Air at JFK 6,453 6,220 5,563 6,050 5,442 5,723
Los Angeles 21,627 21,261 20,389 21,005 18,609 16,984
Seattle 6,091 6,167 4,825 5,408 4,558 4,378
Chicago Total 4,570 4,665 3,821 4,473 3,750 3,245
  Chicago Air 3,423 3,602 2,798 3,349 2,813 2,433
New Orleans 7,157 7,864 5,242 5,729 4,384 3,874
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