The cargo backlog in California is bad, and it’s only getting worse. The Biden Administration is considering calling on the National Guard to help transport some of the cargo in an effort to unclog the bottleneck of goods at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The issue, once again, is a lack of truck drivers, and Guard members could be brought in to help drive that cargo.
If the Guard is activated, it would mark the latest in a series of unprecedented deployments for its members. They’ve delivered vaccines during the pandemic, delivered kids to school, and now, possibly, retail goods in supply chains.
The federal government is not usually in charge of activating the National Guard, however, so the state of California will likely have to approve and actually deploy any Guard members. Governor Gavin Newsom has already tried to address the backlog, per Bloomberg, but the state is struggling with an increase in cargo volume on top of a decrease in supply chain capacity.
The Guardian says that the ports in southern California are receiving record amounts of cargo:
In June, the Los Angeles port became the first in the western hemisphere to process 10m container units in a 12‑month period. The Long Beach port will likely process more than 9m container units this year, exceeding last year’s record of 8.1m units, the most in the port’s 110-year history.
The ports together move 40% of container imports in the US and 30% of exports, meaning the severe backlog has far reaching effects across the country and in California.
Of course, those goods are then sent elsewhere around the country, so the issue isn’t contained to just California. Earlier this week, the Biden Administration directed the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to operate 24/7. The problem is that even if the ports process more goods, there aren’t enough truck drivers to deliver them.
That’s why the National Guard could be called in. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said “I’m not here to take options off the table,” earlier this week when asked about a possible role for the Guard and even the U.S. Navy.
CNN reports that while the Guard and Navy are being considered to help at the ports, it’s not very likely it’ll come to that. But we’re not even through October! November and December are just around the bend, and so is the deluge of cargo that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas will bring. Yikes.