Research Stumper: Fall 2018

A student was looking for data on shipping tonnage in international trade with the US (i.e., how much cargo is coming in specifically via ship). As with most reference questions on data, you have to think of who would need that information enough to keep it. Of course, it's usually the government. Strangely enough, after some false starts, we found that it is not the Department of Commerce, it was the Department of Transportation: https://www.marad.dot.gov/resources/data-statistics/#Trade%20Statistics

Similarly, another student needed data on flight traffic. Who is flying from here to there? Seemingly easy, but alas, much more difficult that expected. What we finally came down to was FAA data and more BTS: https://www.transtats.bts.gov/DL_SelectFields.asp

Strangely, air passengers (human cargo) is handled by trade statistics, and cargo containers (stuff cargo) is handled as transportation. Seems backwards, but we got our data!

 

Some impressive stats that came out of that research: 

In 2017, the Port of Oakland moved a total of 1,666,100 TEU (or, "twenty foot equivalent units," or, loaded containers), and 14,782,476.6 metric tons of cargo in 2017. That's imports and exports to/from all countries and and domestic trade. 

In 2015, the last year reported, the US sent 2,751,143 containers full of exports to China, and China sent back 9,773,638 containers of imports to the US for a total of 89,914,715 metric tons exchanged in US ports.