The busiest container port in the US is going to start operating around the clock seven days a week to deal with supply chain issues that are hitting American businesses hard. The White House said Wednesday that it had brokered a deal to keep the Port of Los Angeles open 24/7, with major companies including FedEx, Walmart, and UPS agreeing to unload during off-peak hours, the AP reports. The LA port and the Port of Long Beach—the latter shifted to 24/7 operations weeks ago—handle around 40% of all containers entering the US, and they have been experiencing major problems for months, reports the BBC.
Before the pandemic, it was rare for more than one ship at a time to have to wait for a berth at the Port of Los Angeles, but there were no fewer than 73 backed up one day last month, the BBC notes. Administration officials say they are also working to clear supply chain blockages by urging states to speed up the licensing of more truck drivers—though since the issues "stretch up and down supply chains, from foreign harbors to American rail yards and warehouses," it's not clear how much the administration's plans will ease the shortages that are driving up prices for a wide range of goods, the New York Times reports.
The White House said that in a meeting with labor and business leaders Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris "raised the historic and global nature of the current challenges facing the transportation and logistics supply chain." Analysts say shortages could persist long into next year and might get worse before they get better. Few expect the situation to improve significantly in time for Christmas shopping. "I think Johnny is going to get a back-order slip in his stocking this year," Robert B. Handfield, a professor of supply chain management at North Carolina State University, tells the Times. (Read more Port of Los Angeles stories.)