A barometer of the Bay Area economy is expected to wane in the spring from the effects of the coronavirus, but it is unclear what the recent widening spread of the virus will mean for the summer and fall.
“Up to now there has been little of any impact” at the Port of Oakland, which is an economic barometer for the Bay Area, port spokesman Mike Zampa said. But he said the latest data for the port is through only January.
The port is barometer and engine for the Bay Area as 80,000 jobs in the region are connected to port activity.
Zampa said growth in cargo volume is expected to slide moderately in the spring because shipping lines will suspend some voyages between Asia and the U.S. Up to 30 voyages might be canceled between Asia and the West Coast.
The president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which advocates for ocean carriers and marine terminal operators, among other shipping-related workers, agreed.
John McLaurin added that cargo volumes are expected to be down 25 percent for the month of February and 15 percent in the first quarter at the Port of Los Angeles, citing a statement by the executive director of the port.
Zampa said the cancellation of as many as 30 voyages is a moderate decrease because 30 to 40 ships arrive per week, typically. He said port officials don’t see beyond the next few months.
“We’re waiting to see what comes next,” he said.
The future may not be pretty because the stock market, an indicator of future economic activity, has swooned since fears over the virus gripped traders last week. The rout included a 1,200-point decline Feb. 27, the biggest one-day point drop ever for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, sending the index firmly into correction territory.
International trade economist Jock O’Connell said production in China is down and will slowly ramp up. Until then, some essentials for U.S. residents will be in short supply.
“We rely upon China for many essentials of life,” O’Connell said, such as clothing, home furnishings and footwear.