California exports grow for 20th consecutive month

Here's one sector of the lukewarm California economy that's cooking: export trade.

California exports jumped 13 percent in June from a year ago, Los Angeles consultants Beacon Economics said Thursday.

It marked the 20th straight month that exports have risen. Adjusted for inflation, exports are back at pre-recession levels, said Jock O'Connell, a Sacramento economist who advises Beacon on international trade. Computers and medical equipment have been the big gainers.

Exports from California totaled $13.83 billion last month, Beacon said, basing its data on new U.S. Department of Commerce statistics.

That kind of volume isn't enough to pull the economy out of the doldrums, "but it's about the only driver we've got right now," O'Connell said.

On the negative side, imports to California fell in June. Shipments to seaports were down 5.5 percent from a year ago, while air cargo arrivals fell 11.7 percent.

It was the first time in recent memory that imports had fallen from year-ago levels, he said, and is "symptomatic of the state of the economy."

The decline is worrisome in part because imports generate plenty of blue-collar jobs, in the Central Valley and elsewhere, he said.

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