(Bloomberg) -- C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., a cargo broker that manages $26 billion of freight for its customers, is seeing labor shortages contribute to delays at every hand-off point in the supply chain, Chief Executive Officer Bob Biesterfeld said.
The system is bogged down by a lack of ships and port disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a shortage of drivers to take containers from ports and not enough workers to unload the boxes once they arrive at warehouses. Empty containers sit around waiting to be taken back to Asia to be refilled.
“We’ve got record low labor participation rates right now, and you couple that with very, very strong demand and changing demand patterns,” Biesterfeld said Wednesday in an interview. “Those two things don’t line up all that well to create great outcomes.”
Biesterfeld expects the snarls to last into next year. Shippers are still rushing to bring in goods for the holidays and the popularity of gift cards likely will extend the shopping season into 2022.
He credits the Biden administration with convincing the Port of Los Angeles to move to around-the-clock operations, but said he doesn’t expect that move alone will even come close to solving the issue.
The snags are causing companies to rethink how truck-driving jobs can be changed to attract more candidates, including young people. The days of drivers staying out on the road for weeks away from their families are gone, Biesterfeld said. The industry needs to design shorter routes, provide services such as truck parking, and become more women-friendly to tap into a potentially large pool of female drivers, he said.
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