Broken Links: America’s supply chain crisis

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CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – In America, the journey for so many goods starts at ports like the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah.

Containers are taken off ships, loaded onto trucks, and driven to distribution warehouses.

Those products are then delivered to stores and stacked on shelves, but for some items, there is a hold-up and the ones you can find are costing more.

“Okay, so this is kind of a year-long process that has gotten us to the point where we are today,” UNC-Charlotte Belk College of Business Economic Financial Professor John Connaughton.

It hit us like a Mack truck.  Soon after Covid hit the U.S., lockdowns, and layoffs were quickly followed by waves of relief.

Three stimulus checks were distributed over the span of a year.   Each handout gave a shot of revival to the economy that took a massive hit in early 2020.

“A little back of the envelope calculation, a family with two adults and one child received about $7900 in tax checks,” Connaughton said.

$870 billion dollars went directly into the pockets of consumers ready to the consumer.

“People are hungry,” former importer/exporter Tim Beck said.  “We ‘re a $22 trillion economy here, we are a hungry tiger.”

As the virus spread, factories overseas faced shutdowns, and the production of goods came to a screeching halt.  Moving what we did have faced roadblocks.  

“From unloading, stacking, trucking, and railroad getting it to where it needs to go.  That’s not going to be fixed anytime soon,” Connaughton said.

Truck drivers who decided on retirement over uncertainty, merchant mariners stuck at sea, and inadequate railroad infrastructure all fed a monster that broke America’s supply chain.

“And now with the insurmountable quantity of items that have to be moved in containers and items that are in warehousing,” Intermodal Operations manager Christine Pascal said.  “It’s become so bogged down that there’s not enough drivers to do everything that has to get done.”

We are fighting through one of the most impactful worker shortages in modern history.

Those still on the job are forced to pull twice their weight.

“It’s still a work in progress, some places you go [and] you still wait. Especially after some workers have been hired that don’t take pride in their work,” truck driver Clarissa Rankin said.

The aftermath is being seen at store shelves up and down the East Coast.  Virtual buyers are also impacted and left questioning when their goods will make it to their doorstep.  

“They kept on pushing back and pushing back and now I’m going on 6 months of waiting. Now they’re saying it’s going to be delivered at the beginning of 2022,” consumer Johnathan Castro said.

On top of delays, buyers are dishing out more.  A scarcity of products, coupled with high demand, had led to higher prices across the board.

“If the producer can’t get those prices, there’s a potential they could go out of business or retool to find something else unique,” Beck said.

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