The US government is stepping up its efforts to relieve the supply chain nightmare that has led to shortages of some goods, higher prices for consumers and now threatens to slow the economic recovery.
Around the world, ports are congested as a result of the rapid rebound in demand for commodities and goods as much of the global economy has recovered from the pandemic. Shipping costs have soared, and companies wanting to move goods around are struggling because there just aren't enough ships or containers available. All the while prices are going up for consumers.
President Biden outlined the steps his administration will be taking alongside some of the country's biggest ports and retailers to help alleviate the supply chain bottlenecks.
Here are some key things to know about Biden's announcements today:
- Longer port hours: Biden announced the Port of Los Angeles will move to 24/7 service, bringing it into line with operations at the Port of Long Beach, which is already working on a 24/7 schedule. Those two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the US. "Today's announcement has the potential to be a game changer," Biden said in remarks at the White House. He said the additional port hours will increase the time spent unloading container ships by 60 hours a week, and will represent a doubling of hours the ports of Los Angeles and the neighboring Port of Long Beach were operating earlier this year.
- The private sector is also taking action: Biden met with senior officials and stakeholders to discuss collective efforts to address global transportation bottlenecks and then deliver remarks on Wednesday. Port operators, truckers' associations, labor unions and executives from Walmart, FedEx, UPS, and Target attended the talks. He said that Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, had committed to a 50% increase in moving goods during off-peak hours. The President said FedEx and UPS will also increase their overnight operations. "All of these goods won't move by themselves," Biden said. "For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who ordered the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and stores to step up as well."
- Efforts to boost the number of truck drivers: Officials also said the federal government is working with state Departments of Motor Vehicles to help increase the issuance of commercial drivers licenses in an effort to boost the number of truck drivers in the country. They added that the White House hopes to see the trucking and rail freight industries expand hours as well. A shortage of truck drivers has added to the supply chain constraints, making the delivery of goods to consumers even more costly and slow.
CNN's Chris Isidore, Jason Hoffman and Matt Egan contributed to this post.