From the Mall to the Docks, Signs of Rebound; Port of Portland Shipping Volume Up by 30% vs. 2009
From yesterday's NY Times:
The docks are humming again at this sprawling Pacific port, with clouds of golden dust billowing off the piles of grain spilling into the bellies of giant tankers. “Things are looking up,” said Dan Broadie, a longshoreman. No longer killing time at the union hall while waiting for work, instead he is guiding a mechanized spout pouring 44,000 tons of wheat into the Arion SB, bound for the Philippines.MP: Other highlights from the Port of Portland from its March cargo statistics include: a) a 29.9% increase in grain tonnage for the first quarter this year compared to last year, and the first time since early 2008 of three consecutive months of tonnage above 400,000 short tons; b) a 93.2% increase in bulk mineral shipments for the first three months of 2010 compared to 2009 and c) a 16-month high for the overall shipment volume (3-month moving average basis), the highest level since November 2008.
At malls from New Jersey to California, shoppers are snapping up electronics and furniture, as fears of joblessness yield to exuberance over rising stock prices. Tractor trailers and railroad cars haul swelling quantities of goods through transportation corridors, generating paychecks for truckers and repair crews.
Global trade holds promise. At the Port of Portland — a major shipping point for commodities harvested as far east as the Great Plains — the tonnage of goods swelled by 42 percent during the first three months of the year compared with a year earlier (see chart above, data here). Minerals like soda ash — an important industrial ingredient to make glass and detergent — increased by 93 percent.
Activity here and at ports along the Pacific coast is generating business through related industries. Rail freight traffic was up nearly 8 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the Association of American Railroads. That has bolstered revenue for Greenbrier, a Portland-based maker of rail cars that was hard hit during the recession.