But the Port of Los Angeles had its best April ever and its best month of the year. Imports grew 16.7% from a year earlier to 364,556 containers. Exports rose 11.6% to 186,838 containers.
Overall, including empty containers sent back to Asia for later use in delivering more imports, the Port of Los Angeles moved 707,182 cargo containers in April, up 14.6%.
"Any time we see more than 700,000 containers, it's a very good month for us," Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.
It was quite a different April in Long Beach.
Imports through that port fell 13.8% to 232,963 containers, according
Including empty containers, Long Beach moved 461,911 containers in April, down 13% from a year earlier. That left the combined ports with 1.2 million containers moved in April.
Long Beach is operating with six cargo terminals instead of the seven it had before California United Terminals left in late 2010 to move into the Port of Los Angeles. Long Beach officials said the lost terminal, which is a subsidiary of Hyundai, represented about 10% of the port's cargo traffic.
Experts predict modest growth in traffic at the ports for the rest of the year. An international trade report due to be officially released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. was expected to forecast just 3% to 4% growth in U.S. trade.
Jock O'Connell, a trade expert at Beacon Economics, also said there would be growth through the remainder of the year, "but not a level that you would call robust."
International trade is important to the Southern California economy. About 640,000 people work in trade-related jobs in Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial counties, Inland Empire economist John Husing said.
That's up from a low of fewer than 600,000 during the recession, but still far short of the 709,000 trade jobs held in pre-recession 2007.