California’s California’s share of U.S. merchandise export trade in August sank to its lowest level since state-of-origin export statistics were first compiled 35 years ago, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of the latest U.S. trade statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division.
The state’s share of the $180.26 billion in total U.S. merchandise exports in August was 8.6%, down from an 8.7% share in July and an 8.9% share in June. In August 2021, California accounted for 10.1% of all U.S. merchandise exports, a percentage more in line with the state’s export share in the years that preceded the onset of the COVID pandemic in early 2020.
In years past, Beacon Economics’ California Trade Report has used year-over-year comparisons to illustrate the monthly and quarterly ebb and flow of California’s merchandise trade. So long as changes in export/import prices were fairly negligible, those comparisons offered a reasonably accurate gauge of the state’s merchandise trade.
However, for more than a year now, inflation (or more precisely a run-up in both export and import prices) has diminished the usefulness of such year-over-year comparisons.
“Although export and import price changes have been moderating recently, it remains that overall U.S. export prices this August were up 10.8% percent from one year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser.
What that means is: While this August’s $180.26 billion in total U.S. merchandise exports appears to be 21.9% higher than last August’s $147.91 billion, once the numbers are adjusted for price changes, the real increase was actually 11.5%, according to U.S. Census Bureau calculations.
Because there are no separate calculations of export/import price changes for the goods traded by businesses in California or any other state, the experience at the national level provides limited guidance on how much the nominal state-of-origin trade data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau should be discounted. Still, it would appear evident that California’s export trade in August has contracted from one year earlier.
With those major caveats in mind, California exported goods valued at $15.587 billion in August, a nominal gain of just 4.7% over the $14.894 billion recorded in August 2021. Exports of manufactured goods nominally rose by 8.7% to $10.029 billion from $9.229 billion one year earlier.
But the state’s exports of agricultural products and raw materials fell even in nominal terms by 6.4% to $1.862 billion from $1.989 billion. Re-exports, meanwhile, edged 0.5% higher to $3.695 billion from $3.677 billion.
Year-to-date, the state’s exports have totaled $124.510 billion, nominally 7.4% above the $115.971 billion exported at the same point one year earlier.
The real fall-off in exports from one year ago was partially reflected in an 8.3% year-over-year decline in containerized export tonnage that sailed from California’s three major ports in August as well as a 10.9% decrease in export tonnage from Los Angeles International Airport.
Airborne export tonnage at San Francisco International, however, did inch up by 1.6% in the latest numbers over last August.
Source: Beacon Economics