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Despite challenges, there are signs of progress in the nation’s goods movement chain, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's new Transportation Supply Chain Indicators Tracker.
Supply chains have been stressed since the start of the pandemic, as historic levels of goods coming into the United States, aging infrastructure, the pandemic and geopolitical disruptions continue to cause bottlenecks, congestion and challenges in global markets.
Signs of progress: U.S. ports — including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach collectively — imported more containers than any previous January. The total number of container ships waiting for berths at U.S. ports has dropped by 35% since peaking in early February and freight railroads’ weekly intermodal movements in March approached their highest levels of 2022 so far, USDOT officials said in a press release issued April 8.
Goods being delivered to shelves and real retail inventories, excluding autos, are at their highest levels in history and 6% above pre-pandemic levels.
The progress builds on continued action by USDOT and the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to move ports toward 24/7 operations, improve recruitment and retention in the trucking workforce and speed the movement of goods by rail and other modes.
USDOT also recently announced a data sharing effort — called Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) — to ease supply chain congestion. FLOW’s initial participants include Target, FedEx, UPS, True Value, ocean shippers and ports.
And in February, USDOT announced the availability of a historic $450 million in funds for American ports, and published a comprehensive report with recommendations for the future of American supply chains.
"While this is important progress, we still see challenges on the horizon and USDOT continues to monitor potential disruptions," department officials said. "COVID-19 outbreaks across Asia and Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression could impact our supply chains here in the United States."