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Glimmer of hope: Has the ship gridlock off ports finally peaked?

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Port congestion — which dramatically worsened in the second half of 2021 — appears to have temporarily peaked, although it’s too soon to tell whether it’s a reprieve before the next runup, a high-level plateau, or the beginning of the end.

The number of container ships waiting for berths at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell to 78 on Tuesday, the lowest tally in three months and down 28% from the all-time high of 109 on Jan. 9, albeit still up 160% year on year.

Whether due to seasonality or other factors, the recent pattern of ships waiting off Southern California has mirrored what happened the year before. The backlog grew throughout the fall, peaked around year-end, then began declining in the first few months of the year. In 2021, the queue numbers fell from February until the third week in June, then began climbing again.

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