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Commerce Secretary expects improvement in supply chain issues by Christmas

Factory closures and a shortage of workers and parts mean many other items haven’t even been produced in the first place.
Credit: Golden Sikorka - stock.adobe.com

As we get closer and closer to Christmas, many Texans are becoming ever more worried about whether they’ll even be able to purchase this season’s must-have holiday item.

Supply chain gridlock across the globe means many goods are simply stuck on shipping containers, boats, trains and trucks. Factory closures and a shortage of workers and parts mean many other items haven’t even been produced in the first place. It’s all adding up to create a giant mess from ships to shelves.

“If this were a multiple-choice test, I would choose ‘D: all of the above,’” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said on Inside Texas Politics. “It’s a worker shortage. It’s a shortage of truck drivers. It’s the fact that demand is really high right now.”

The Commerce Secretary says folks have been stuck inside their homes and they’re now ready and eager to spend. And unlike the Great Recession, for instance, economists say Americans have dollars saved to do just that. And Raimondo says people aren’t necessarily spending money on vacations, but instead buying goods.

“We have disruption in the supply at the same time demand is through the roof and it’s just coming together in this really complex mix. The bottom line is it’s frustrating for Americans who see prices higher or lead times longer,” she said.

Raimondo says the problem will be fixed, it will just take time. But she sees improvement by Christmas after the Administration initiated a plan to address the bottlenecks. 

Some ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are moving to 24/7 operations. Those two ports alone account for 40% of the containers coming into the United States.

The White House also says many big businesses have agreed to similar operating commitments, from Walmart to Target, UPS to FedEx.

RELATED: Walmart, FedEx, UPS to ramp up efforts for supply chain help as LA port goes 24/7

There is still no word if the Port of Houston will move to a 24/7 operation. But all terminals there are open and operating normally.

“I think you will see some improvement. You know, as I said, this wasn’t created overnight. We’ve never lived through anything like this before,” said Raimondo.

Before President Biden asked her to become Commerce Secretary, Raimondo served as the 75th Governor of Rhode Island, that state’s first female governor. 

Governors all over literally had to shut down their economies overnight in early 2020. And now, they’re ramping them back up again. So, Raimondo knows firsthand just how hard that is.

It’s also one of the reasons she’s passionate about the infrastructure package, which remains stalled in Congress. Raimondo helped negotiate it for the Administration and she says it will survive even if lawmakers give the package a “haircut,” as she calls potential cuts.

But she stresses that doing nothing is not the answer.

“I agree with the President which is that we need all of it,” the Madame Secretary said. “But I also strongly agree that the most important thing is to do something and do something big.”

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