Backlog of shipping containers at Ports of L.A., Long Beach appears to be easing

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The backlog of containers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach appears to be easing, days before new fees are set to begin for shipping companies responsible for containers clogging the docks.

The number of containers that have been dwelling on the docks in Los Angeles and Long Beach for at least nine days has fallen over 20% in a week— a “promising sign” that recent actions are helping with port congestion, the White House said Wednesday.

The ports — which handle 40% of the country’s container imports —have been seeing a record number of shipments arrive, with containers piling up at the ports and creating bottlenecks.

As a result, the average number of days a container spends on the docks has crept up, taking up space that is needed for new shipping containers.

Before the backlog, containers were typically left for fewer than four days at terminals, but recently, approximately 40% of containers are left for nine days or more, officials said.

Starting Nov. 15, companies will be fined for cargo containers that dwell at the port for six or nine days, depending if the container is traveling by rail or truck, respectively.

Officials also recently announced the ports will shift toward 24/7 operations to help ease the backlog.

Reducing the number of containers piling up at the ports solves one issue, since the congestion has slowed the entire system down, leaving less space to move containers between docks and ships and less space for trucks to maneuver.

But the supply chain backlogs remain an ongoing problem that’s at least partly to blame for a worsening surge of inflation.

On Wednesday, the federal government reported that its consumer price index climbed 6.2% from a year ago — the biggest jump since 1990.

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