Cargo ships waiting to unload a result of supply chain problems

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Reuters reported that there was a record number of cargo ships waiting in the California San Pedro Bay to unload at our U.S. busiest U.S. port complex at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach.  Volume is up 30% at this port complex this year.

Reportedly, Americans have been buying more rather than going out to dinner or taking holidays in the COVID-19 era.  During the first eight months of 2021, bbc.com reports that more cargo from Asia to the U.S. amounted to about a  25% increase compared to 2019's pre-pandemic statistics.  China has locked down some of their ports during the pandemic.  Transportation costs keep rising causing delays, and the cost of fuel has been on the increase.

Backups along the west coast include the Seattle area where King5 news reported there is a shortage of shipping containers in Asia causing more backups in orders being received by stores in the U.S.  Demands for office supplies are up because more people have been working from home and there has been an increased demand for office protection products because businesses fear the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Unloading shipping containers isn't happening quickly because of the Delta variant and truckers who are retiring and those workers who are holding out against getting the vaccination shots.  Shipping containers stack up on ports waiting to be unloaded so they can be trucked inland.

Ports become congested with many ships lay anchor until they can come in to be unloaded and find space to unload all their cargo.  One solution has been to help give truckers more time to pick up goods at ports by opening gates during the weekends to allow them to come in.

"Disruptions continue at every node in the supply chain," said Gene Seroka, executive director at the Port of Los Angeles. - Reuters.com

Already there have been reports of ongoing logistics problems with small margins of spare capacity, where the increases in shipping cargo has flooded ports. There is a lack of skilled port workers, railway crew and large truck drivers that can move everything to clear space for more shipping containers to be unloaded. The supply chain system has has been neglected and needs infrastructure upgrades, but a newly formed White House task force may not be able to ease all the congested bottlenecks in time for Christmas.


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