Earlier this year, tangled supply chains seemed likely to persist through the end of the year. In response, the White House formed a task force drawing on multiple Cabinet agencies, with Biden administration officials working to ease bottlenecks at a vital U.S. port complex in Southern California and calling for round-the-clock dock work as part of efforts to clear clogged freight channels. The mountains of freight marooned on wharves eventually started to shrink.
Several stakeholders taking part in Wednesday’s meeting, part of which was opened to the press, backed up Biden’s rosy assessments.
“I think the big headline here is freight movement off the ports is improving,” said Christopher Connor, chief executive officer of the American Association of Port Authorities “And that’s happening due to extraordinary efforts, collaborative efforts between all suppliers, participants coupled with creative solutions, which are easing congestion. Despite all reports to the contrary over several months, it is going to be a good holiday season.”
Fred Smith, chief executive officer of FedEx, said his company had managed to move 100 million packages during the weekend after Thanksgiving, the first of its peak season.
“The supply chain issues are not all solved,” Smith said. “But there’s a lot of effort underway to solve them. And we’re optimistic that people will have a good peak season and most of Santa Claus’s products will be delivered to the consumers.”
“I thought you were Santa Claus,” Biden quipped, adding that he thinks Smith is “doing a hell of a job.”
In his remarks Wednesday, Biden also pointed to positive news on employment figures and gas prices — even as inflation remains a persistent problem.
“Today, America is the only leading economy in the world where household incomes and the economy as a whole are stronger than they were before the pandemic, even accounting for price increases,” he said.
Despite the positive news, public opinion polling shows that many Americans lack confidence in the country’s economic recovery. A Gallup survey released Wednesday morning shows that Americans’ economic confidence has now dropped to where it was in April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic spurred lockdowns across the country.
David J. Lynch contributed to this report.