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Data: Digital Intelligence Strategy;  Chart: Axios Visuals

Supply chain constraints have gotten so bad that even throwing more people at the problems wouldn’t make them go away immediately. A new snapshot of port activity in California is the latest indication.

Driving the news: The number of workers in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is down roughly 30% from pre-COVID levels, according to RBC Capital Markets data shared with Axios. RBC approximates foot traffic based on anonymized cellphone location data from geospatial intelligence company Orbital Insight.

  • “That’s your labor shortage quantified,” says Michael Tran, managing director of digital intelligence strategy at RBC Capital Markets

Why it matters: Companies are eager to find signs of relief in the supply chain in order to adjust inventory and prices effectively. The data shows how far activity has dropped from pre-pandemic levels and how hard it's been to stabilize this year.

State of play: Among the 22 biggest ports in the world, LA and Long Beach this year have experienced the longest turnaround times (how long it takes a ship to move through port), according to RBC's data.

  • The gap between the most efficient port, Port Klang in Malaysia, and LA and Long Beach, is 4.8 days.
  • Across all global ports, the current turnaround time is almost an entire day (+350%) longer than normal levels in 2019.

The big picture: The economy cannot add jobs fast enough to counterbalance the current record demand for goods.

  • The backlog is so immense that even with more workers added, you would need everyone to work harder and longer to get through that backlog first, says Tran.

What to watch: There are currently 60 ships at anchor between both ports, according to Phillip Sanfield of the Port of LA, or about two weeks of work waiting to come in.

Go deeper

Unruly customers threaten economic recovery

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pace of the economic recovery hinges in part on workers returning to jobs that involve dealing with an unpredictable public. But many of those workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit.

The big picture: Aggressive and violent clashes between customers and service workers over COVID safety protocols over the past nearly two years have led to prison sentences, fines and deaths.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

3 hours ago - Technology

Race and technology in America

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The technology industry is famously determined to change the world — but its efforts to diversify its workforce and remove bias from its products haven't changed nearly enough.