by Ashton Basak ’23
Published Dec. 22nd, 2021
The global economy in its most fundamental nature is dictated by supply and demand. However, when the coronavirus pandemic erupted throughout the world, the health of the economy, which depends on supply, was threatened.
Nations with mass production facilities, such as China, were forced to reduce their working capacity, and some even shut down their factories. Furthermore, society moved into a more reserved lifestyle with millions of people working from home, leading to an increase in demand for items to suit their new lifestyle. Producers were unable to keep up with the increase in consumer needs, resulting in mass shortages in technology, furniture, and toiletries. The emergence of shortages drove up the price on many products, ultimately harming consumers.
Over time, with the vaccine rollout and foreseeable growth in the economy, companies moved back towards pre-COVID capabilities in production and labor. The understaffed and equipment-lacking distribution system in the United States was unprepared for a surge in production.
This has led to the current supply chain crisis: a myriad of goods, including food, Christmas decorations, and more, are sitting on loaded and stationary ships in ports of cities, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, along the coasts of the United States.
Due to a lack of workers to unload the ships, it takes days and even months to unload these containers and ship them to their respective locations. This problem is escalated by the lack of truck-drivers to move the products, so even in the rare chance that a product is unloaded in a timely manner, there is little dependability in the trucking industry to relieve America’s crippled supply chain.
The timetable in which this will be resolved is unknown, though the Biden Administration has taken steps in addressing it. In October, President Biden introduced measures for longer port hours in California while federal officials collaborated with individual state Departments of Motor Vehicles to offer insurance benefits in an effort to attract new truck drivers.
Companies have discussed and implemented plans to increase wages for truck drivers and shiploaders, incentivizing Americans to take on the positions. Despite these efforts, the supply chain crisis carries on, burdening consumers with expenses and long delivery times that will surely cause frustration in the upcoming holiday season.