4:45pm | Total container cargo at the Port of Long Beach saw yet another increase in the month of October, a very good sign nearing an uncertain holiday shopping season according to one economic expert quoted today in the Los Angeles Times.

Healthy ports are normally an accurate barometer for the national economy, so economists often look to both inbound and outbound container traffic to gauge the country’s current financial status. The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combine to handle more than 40% of the nation’s incoming goods, and so are especially important to determining economic strength.

At the Port of Long Beach, total Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (T.E.U.s) increased over the previous month of September, but jumped a massive 35.6% over October of the previous year.

According to a local economist, that’s something to get excited about. From the Los Angeles Times [LAT]:

“Retailers were concerned about a shortage of cargo containers and they ordered early this year to make sure they had enough goods for the holiday season,” said Nancy Sidhu, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “The fact that these numbers were still higher than what had been 2009’s best month is significant.”

The Port of Los Angeles had slower gains in October, but Times‘ reporter Ronald D. White explains that this is because the Port of Long Beach is playing catch-up after a slower initial recovery to the economic downturn. Inbound cargo increased by a little less than 5-percent at Long Beach from September to October of this year, but more than 33-percent from October 2009 to October 2010.