Starting early this year, though, things changed. Loaded outbound containers outnumbered empties in February, March, and April, the first such three-month run, Wong says, since the spring of 2000. The totals so far in 2008 are 1,033,655 loaded inbound, 595,232 loaded outbound, and 476,853 empties.
This counts as good news. So far this year, so many empty containers have left Long Beach that, laid end to end, they would stretch all the way past New York and end up in Nova Scotia somewhere. (And the number of empty containers which have left Los Angeles is even greater.) But, they no longer outnumer the loaded containers which have left those ports.
The US will never again have a trade surplus in goods, and given the way its economy is headed, that’s well and good. But it’s nice to export something substantive, and clearly that’s beginning to happen.