U.S. shipping ports are seeing record numbers and the traffic congestion is not expected to subside until mid-summer 2022, according to leaders of some of the busiest ports in America.
August was the busiest recorded month since the tracking began in 2002 with 2.37 million 20-foot shipping containers, and an estimated 25.9 million containers are expected to break the record of 22 million set in 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
"I don't see substantial mitigation with regard to the congestion that the major container ports are experiencing," Port of Long Beach, California, Executive Director Mario Cordero told the Journal. "Many people believe it's going to continue through the summer of 2022."
The final months of the calendar year represent the peak shipping season through the holidays before the annual February slowdown, which is when China factories shut down for the Lunar New Year, according to the report.
"We think at least midway through 2022 or the entire 2022 could be very strong," Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch told the Journal.
The traffic at the ports is complicated by shortages of truck drivers and warehouse workers to reduce congestion, according to C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. CEO Bob Biesterfeld, who leads the largest freight broker in North America.
"I don't think that's something that just gets fixed in the next four to five months in accordance with the Lunar New Year," he told the Journal.
The congesting will increase costs of shipping and therefore goods in the U.S., leading the Biden administration to work to address the backlog by appointing a ports envoy, the Journal reported.
Before the pandemic, it was unusual to have a ship anchored off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but recent weeks have seen 40 or more ships waiting to dock, port leaders told the paper.
Consumer goods spending in the U.S. has risen amid the pandemic versus services, and the exposure of shortened supply chains as the start of the pandemic has led to importers stockpiling goods to boot.
It might take a full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic until the imbalance of shipping in-flows are reduced, according to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Director Sam Ruda.
"That's really what will inform the duration of what we are seeing on the ground today," Ruda told the Journal.
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