COVID-19

What the new coronavirus means for America’s busiest port complex

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal Mar 5, 2020
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The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container port, in November 2019. Mario Tama/Getty Images
COVID-19

What the new coronavirus means for America’s busiest port complex

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal Mar 5, 2020
The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container port, in November 2019. Mario Tama/Getty Images
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Volume at the Port of Los Angeles was down 25% in February compared with last year, largely because of the new coronavirus. Also known as America’s Port, the Port of Los Angeles handles more of the world’s cargo than any other port in the Western Hemisphere. “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with the port’s executive director Gene Seroka about the slowdown.

Seroka said he expects business to be down 15% for the first quarter of this year, because of both trade policy and COVID-19.

“We’ve had 41 vessel cancellations from the middle of February through April 1,” Seroka said. “That would amount to about 25% of our normal ship calls. Today in port we have four vessels, when we normally would have 10 to 12.”

The decreased volume is having an impact on workers. Seroka said his dock workers are not out in full force, and that people who are still working have much less to do than usual.

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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