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Narrow Window to Clear Clogged U.S. Port Hinges on Demand Waning

  • Supply chains are strained by stockpiling, healthy consumers
  • Dockworkers’ contract talks cloud outlook, add risks of snarls
Container ships n the Port of Los Angeles.

Container ships n the Port of Los Angeles.

Photographer: Tim Rue/Bloomberg

The bottlenecked ports in Los Angeles face a narrow window between now and midyear to clear container backlogs before another import surge and union-contract talks threaten to stall progress moving record volumes of cargo through the busiest U.S. gateway for trade.

There are good operational reasons for optimism that L.A. and Long Beach will catch enough of a breather in the next four months. The number of inbound ships has fallen by about one-third since hitting an early-January peak of 109, stacks of long-dwelling containers are shrinking and omicron cases among dockworkers are fading.