Port of NY/NJ Was the Busiest US Container Port in May and Second for 2024

Port of New York and New Jersey
Combined New York-New Jersey facilities were the busiest U.S. container port in May and second overall so far in 2024

Published Jul 9, 2024 2:40 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Port of New York and New Jersey is highlighting that it again became the busiest container port in the U.S. during May. The port has an ongoing rivalry with the Southern California ports and with a slowing in Asian imports, shifting trade patterns, and global disruptions on shipping routes, NY/NJ was able to once again claim the title of the busiest container port.

During May, the Port of New York and New Jersey reports it handled a total of 790,758 TEUs, a 16.9 percent increase from the 676,311 TEUs in May 2023. Both imports and exports were strong at the port with a nearly 18 percent increase in imports year-over-year (413,833 TEUs) and a nearly 13 percent increase in exports (124,801 TEUs).

The Southern California ports by comparison both reported declines year-over-year in May 2024 volumes. The Port of Los Angeles had an overall three percent decline in May (752,893 TEUs) while the Port of Long Beach reported a decline of just over eight percent (695,937 TEUs). Both ports highlighted their overall positive trend while citing near-term impacts from Asian port congestion and shifts in trade patterns. In the past, they have pointed to the combined volume of the two neighboring port complexes in comparison to other ports around the U.S.

The Port of New York and New Jersey however also highlights that it was the third consecutive month when its volume topped 700,000 TEUs. Demonstrating the growth in U.S. volumes, they also emphasized that the port has had six consecutive months of year-over-year volume growth.

Year-to-date, the Port of NY/NJ has handled just over 3.5 million TEU, a better than 12 percent increase overall in 2024 versus 2023. Imports are up 14 percent so far in 2024 while exports have also increased nearly four percent this year.

At this level, NY/NJ is the second busiest container port in the United States having surpassed the Port of Long Beach which has handled 3.45 million TEU, up 10 percent this year. The Port of Los Angeles remains the busiest with a total of more than 3.9 million TEUs, which is up 18 percent this year.

Port officials did not quantify what impact the closure in Baltimore might have been having on monthly volumes as New York/New Jersey and other neighboring ports handled traffic unable to reach the terminals in Baltimore for much of May. NY/NJ in April reported a surge in vehicle volumes, which was up more than 24 percent, while Baltimore the U.S.’s busiest RoRo port was blocked. This growth moderated in May with autos moved through the Port of New York and New Jersey increasing by over six percent (over 33,000 units). Auto volume for January through May rose 11 percent from the same period in 2023 in NY/NJ.

Port officials have emphasized their continuing efforts to invest in port operations to expand capacity and handle larger vessels. Several projects were announced in May to increase capacity, deepen the channel, and create additional anchorage space. 

New York/New Jersey like all the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports however is keeping a close eye on the labor negotiations for dockworkers. The ports are facing the possibility of significant disruptions and potentially shippers will begin diverting volumes as the employers and International Longshoremen’s Association are struggling with contract negotiations. The ILA refused to start talks for the master contract in May citing disputes at the local level. Union leaders have said they will not give up on key issues of automation and have repeatedly said they will not extend past the contract’s September 30 expiration.