California’s traffic jams are legendary, but this is one for the books.
A record 62 cargo ships are waiting to dock at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and are stuck floating off the coast amid a serious supply chain crunch that could mean fewer toys under the Christmas tree this year.
The problem reflects a combination of growing cargo volumes, a labor shortage and COVID-related safety measures that slow the handling of each ship. About one-third of all imports into the U.S. pass through the ports each year.
The Port of Long Beach has broken monthly records for how much cargo has passed through for 12 of the last 13 months, with 32 percent more cargo processed this year than in 2020, according to the trade publication Supply Chain Dive. Backups at the port as cargo ships wait for berths have been common all year, and have only grown as the peak fall shipping season arrived.
Ships are also backing up at other ports around the country, Bloomberg reported, as it takes longer to move containers from ships to trains and trucks. A shortage of truck drivers to collect and drop off the 20- and 40-foot steel boxes is compounding the problem.
The supply chain problem is leading stores like Costco to limit purchases of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, and even forced Nike to lower its sales expectations for the year after it reported a rare shortfall for sales over the summer.
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