The Port of Long Beach – along with its neighbor the Port of Los Angeles – is the nation’s largest gateway for international container trade. EDR Group recently completed the Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study, which quantifies the massive economic impacts of this critical economic engine and its role in the national economy. The study assesses the full range of Port activities, including not only cargo operations, but also cruise passenger services, retail, tourism, and real estate functions. The media has taken note, with stories appearing in publications like the Long Beach Business Journal and Maritime Executive. The study is available on the Port of Long Beach web site.
The study tells the story of the Port’s importance as a job generator for Southern California, the Golden State, and the nation as a whole. In particular, the study found that the Port is connected to one in five jobs in the City of Long Beach. What’s more, for every job supported in Long Beach, the Port also supports 50 more jobs throughout the United States, for a total of over 2.5 million jobs and over $125 billion in labor income. These impacts represent a significant increase over the findings of the previous economic impact study due largely to strong gains in cargo volumes; the total value of goods moving through the Port rose 66% between 2001 and 2017 to $194.1 billion.
Building on EDR Group’s experience with long-range scenario planning, the study also included a long-range forecast of international trade and domestic freight flows, and the tools needed to support the evaluation of possible future scenarios. By using these scenario-based planning tools, the Port will be able to understand and communicate the economic impacts effects of possible natural or human-caused Port disruptions on the local, statewide and national economies. The planning tools also include a dynamic map of trade flow (imports and exports) across the country, supported by an updatable database of economic and trade data.
Value of Exports Shipped through the Port of Long Beach by State
In addition, this study will help inform transportation planning and investment decision-making by a range of agencies beyond the Port. These include the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) (the region’s metropolitan planning organization), and the State of California. With a more robust understanding and accounting for the economic consequences of transportation plans, programs, and projects, these agencies can make decisions that consider how investments may affect Port-related jobs and activities.
International trade gateways such as the Port of Long Beach drive economic growth throughout the nation. EDR Group’s study and others like it help policy-makers, public and private stakeholders, and the public more fully understand and appreciate the role of ports in both regional economies and the nation’s overall economy. As global trade patterns wax and wane due to tariffs, industry changes, climate change, and other factors, this study can provide a model for how to view the wider economic benefits of ports.