Sacramento, January 12, 2010 – California’s export picture was mixed in November. While the value of the state's exports declined slightly from October, November's total did mark the end, albeit barely, of a streak dating back to October 2008 in which the state’s exports in each month fell below the level reported in the same month a year earlier.
The $10.95 billion in goods shipped abroad in November was down 1.2 percent from October but still managed to exceed the $10.75 billion the state shipped abroad in November of last year, according to a University of California Center Sacramento analysis of international trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.
“Even after adjusting for inflation, this November’s export total represents a slight gain over November of 2008,” observed Jock O’Connell, the UC Center’s international trade and economics adviser.
The state's exports of manufactured goods were down 2.1 percent from last November. By contrast, exports of agricultural goods and other non-manufactured products jumped by 29.8 percent over the same period, while re-exports of goods previously imported into the state showed no real gain.
“We’ve peeking around an important corner here, not fully turning it,” O’Connell remarked.
Data published today by the UC Center Sacramento also indicate that Northern California's export trade continues to recover more briskly than Southern California's.
The number of loaded shipping containers leaving the neighboring Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in November was up by 11.4 percent from last year. By contrast, loaded containers sailing from the Port of Oakland were up by 39.7 percent over the same period.
At the state’s two primary international trade gateway airports, which account for about half of the state’s overall export trade, export tonnage in November was up 4.6 percent at Los Angeles International but 11.7 percent at San Francisco International.
Other statistics released today show that the value of U.S. exports shipped through the Los Angeles Customs District in November was 1.1 percent less than in last November, while exports from the San Francisco Customs District rose 14.1 percent. Meanwhile, exports through the San Diego Customs District were down 3.2 percent on a year-over-year basis.
The discrepancy between the jump in the volume of exports and the much smaller increases in the value of exports suggests that the recent export surge is being led by shipments of items with relatively low value-to-weight ratios. Indeed, scrap metal and waste paper represent a major share of the container trade at California's seaports.
So far in 2009, California exports have totaled $108.5 billion, down 19.3 percent compared to the first eleven months of 2008, when the state’s exports amounted to $134.4 billion.
On the import side of the ledger, the UC Center Sacramento analysis showed that $25.1 billion in foreign goods entered the U.S. through California in November, a drop of 8.2 percent from the $27.4 billion reported in November of last year. [Note: There are currently no data sources measuring the value or volume of imports by state of final destination. However, state-of-destination import data will become available for the first time in March, when the trade data for January 2010 are released.]