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West Coast Port Slowdown Over, But Logjam Remains

Wiki Commons

The Port of Long Beach

Wiki Commons

It could take months before California imports and exports are flowing through West Coast ports as they did before the labor slowdown that ended late last week.

The ports are back up and running now that a labor dispute between shippers and longshore workers is resolved. But international trade economist Jock O’Connell says California businesses hoping for immediate movement of their products might be disappointed.

“Even if (the ports) achieve their maximum rates of productivity, it’s going to take them weeks to move out the backlog of cargo that’s sitting on the port property, as well as the large number of ships that are waiting offshore to be processed,” O'Connell says. 

And to make matters worse, he adds, the January-February slow season is ending, so traffic will be picking up as the ports try to ease the backlog.

But it could have been worse: A full shutdown of all West Coast ports could have cost the U.S. economy more than $2 billion a day.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio