The US Shipping Port Congestion Crisis: White House Perspective

White House DC Washington
Photo by Michael Schofield on Unsplash

Earlier in November, the White House released an article about the current shipping container backlog crisis that has been making international headlines.  While the media has painted a fairly grim picture at times about this crisis, the US Government’s media release draws attention to some of the good work being done to alleviate the pressure on North America’s supply chain.

The USA has taken a varied approach to moving shipping containers.  There have been fines, mandatory 24/7 port hours, and increased use of rail to help move containers from ships to stores in an effort to handle the current high demand for overseas goods.

According to the White House’s report, this work has been making a difference.  The current efforts being made have seen past shipping records broken as port workers work around the clock to keep container ships moving.  Containers are still spending long periods of time waiting at ports before they are loaded onto trucks or trains, though; before the pandemic, containers averaged three days at the ports before moving, and currently these same containers are spending around six.

Fees for truck drivers to enter ports to load and unload containers have been a contentious issue in the past, but currently the fee structure is changing to facilitate the movement of freight and reduce some pressure on trucking companies.  For local intermodal haulers, this is likely good news despite the long waits which occur at ports.

While there may be conflicting sentiments between the White House’s report and other news outlets, any improvements in the supply chain are welcome in North America at this point in time.  Inflation and shipping delays are bringing additional stress and uncertainty to consumers, and as the holiday season approaches, the positive gains and measures celebrated by the White House will be tested.