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The nation’s second-largest port complex is struggling to process cargo despite expanded gate hours, illustrating fresh difficulties plaguing supply chains as shippers redirect goods to avoid bottlenecks in other parts of the country.
For almost two years, the New York City area’s Port of New York and New Jersey has seen terminals expand operations into the evening on weekdays and into the weekend. Despite the push, less than 4% of cargo is moved on Saturdays each week, according to Port Director Beth Rooney. “It’s crickets,” she said. “We can’t continue to handle a 30% increase in cargo in the same hours of operation.”
Ongoing supply chain issues and uncertainty around labor talks at the country’s largest gateways in California have led carriers to seek alternative locations in other parts of the country. Imports into the East Coast were up by 9.6% this year through April, while the West Coast saw a 0.3% increase, according to the National Retail Federation.
June was the second-busiest month on record for the Port of New York and New Jersey, second only to March 2022. The operation has seen volumes rise by about 10% since the start of the year, and by more than one-third from pre-pandemic.
Limited space at warehouses and container yards, as well as trucker availability, have contributed to the low turnout rate on weekends, said Michael Bozza, assistant director of commercial development at the port.
“Supply chain partners — whether it be longshore labor, truckers, railroads — they have all been working extremely hard throughout the pandemic and just putting in a tremendous amount of hours,” Bozza said during a tour of the port July 21. “At the end of the week, some folks quite frankly just want a break.”
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach constitute the busiest complex in the U.S.
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