California is losing cargo and high paying jobs to ports throughout North America. And at this point, it isn’t doing much about it. 

Growth at Southern California ports over the past twelve years are at rates far below the competition. The disparity is found in data from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) from 2006-2018.  It shows a disturbing trend. 

What are the implications for Californians when cargo bound for the Midwest goes through Virginia, Georgia or Texas?  With more than one out of seven Southern California jobs tied to logistics, the loss of market share means the loss of high-quality logistics jobs that stretch from California ports to the boundaries of the state. 

How has this competitive disadvantage become so significant?  What should California execute to reverse the trend?

The reason for our declining market share is complex and multi-faceted.  Over the years California ports have experienced the following: 

Not acknowledged, or certainly not publicly discussed are other factors.  We suffer from: 

It should be noted that California’s marine terminals are utilizing or experimenting with near zero or zero emission electric battery and hydrogen technologies.  Port trucks are the cleanest, not just in California but in the United States. Vessel operators are slowing down and utilizing low sulfur fuels and shore side power.  The result is a dramatic reduction of all categories of pollutants and green-house gas emissions. All of that is a good story – but these regulatory expenses are not incurred by our competition and there is no offsetting funding or marketing program offered by the State to counter or mitigate this cost burden.

California can address the loss of jobs and market share by taking actions toward solutions that will attract cargo and promote the logistics industry.  Here are some initial recommendations:

California ports offer a premier product.  But as long as we are impacted by cost, uncertainty and infighting, our success in a very competitive marketplace is not guaranteed.  Our past success is eroding and fading away. The time for action is now.