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Port Of LA Sees Sharp Drop In Cargo Numbers Amid Coronavirus Scare

SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) – The Port of Los Angeles experienced a significant decline in cargo movement last month due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to new numbers released Tuesday.

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Cranes stand idle at the Port of Los Angeles, which is the nation's busiest container port, on March 6, 2020, in San Pedro, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Port of L.A. reports that it saw a 22.5 percent drop in imports in February compared to the same month last year. It also saw a 5.7 percent decrease in exports.

In total, the port moved 544,037 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in February. In the same month last year, it moved 705,306 TEUs, marking a decline of 22.9 percent.

TEUs are a standard measure all ports use to count cargo.

"As factory production in China remains at low levels, we expect soft volumes in March," Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. "Looking ahead to anticipated manufacturing improvements, we will need to return empty containers to Asia and push lingering U.S. export boxes out swiftly. We're actively working with our supply chain partners to be prepared for a cargo surge once production levels ramp up."

The Port of L.A. is the busiest in the nation by both container volume and cargo value.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the decrease in volume is being felt intensely by dock workers and truckers, many of whom have been laid off or seen their hours cut. Seroka told the Times that one in nine jobs in Southern California is directly tied to the ports of L.A. and Long Beach.

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