Cargo Activity at Los Angeles Port Surges Amid Shift to 24/7 Schedule

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Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Cargo Activity at Los Angeles Port Surges Amid Shift to 24/7 Schedule” – below is their description.

A senior official with the Los Angeles port says they’re working to ramp up operations to move cargo, as the facility sees record levels of container activity amid plans for around-the-clock operations in the U.S. supply chain.

“We’re moving as fast as possible. Those 62 container ships at anchor right now have important parts and components that need to go to U.S. manufacturers,” said Gene Seroka, Executive Director at the Port of Los Angeles.

President Joe Biden tried to reassure Americans on Wednesday that he can tame high inflation, announcing a deal to expand operations at the Port of Los Angeles as prices keep climbing and container ships wait to dock in a traffic jam threatening the U.S. economy and holiday shopping.

Prices are jumping in large part because container ships are stranded at ports and because unloaded goods are waiting for trucks, leading to mass shortages and delays that have caused a longer than expected bout of inflation.

The rising costs are eating into worker pay, creating a drag on growth and driving Republican criticism of Biden just as his multitrillion-dollar tax, economic, climate and infrastructure agenda is going through the crucible of congressional negotiations.

The White House responded to the backlog by finalizing an agreement for the Port of Los Angeles to become a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. The hope is that nighttime operations will help to break the logjam and reduce shipping delays for toasters, sneakers, bicycles, cars and more.

But the expansion of port operations was also an unspoken recognition that inflation is lingering at higher levels long after the economy began to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses were worrying about monthslong delays for shipping containers in June, yet the administration only formed its supply chain task force that month and named a port envoy on Aug. 27 to address the challenge.

Ports are also just one piece of the puzzle, Biden said. The country needs more truck drivers, private retailers to step up and better infrastructure, as well as a supply chain that can less easily be disrupted by pandemics and extreme weather. The president is trying to use the predicament as a selling point for his policy plans that undergoing congressional scrutiny.

The sense of uncertainty is beginning to consume the attention of many Americans.

Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States. As of Tuesday, there were 64 ships berthed at the two ports and 80 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Commitments by the Los Angeles port’s operator, longshoremen and several of the country’s largest retail and shipping companies are expected to help relieve the backlog.

Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Target, Samsung and The Home Depot committed to unloading during off-peak hours, making it easier for the Los Angeles port to operate nonstop. The Long Beach port has been operating 24 hours daily for seven days for roughly the past three weeks.

Biden also held a virtual roundtable with the heads of Walmart, FedEx Logistics, UPS, Target, Samsung Electronics North America, the Teamsters Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among other groups, before his speech.

Republican lawmakers say Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package has fueled higher prices. A recent analysis issued by the investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates that “supply-constrained goods” account for 80% of this year’s inflation overshoot, yet the political criticism continues to sting as housing and oil prices add to inflationary pressures.

The Biden administration has argued that higher inflation is temporary. Yet the supply chain issues have persisted months after the economy began to reopen and recover as vaccines lessened many of the risks from the pandemic.

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