DALLAS - President Joe Biden is set to meet with lawmakers and issue an executive order to address the ongoing supply chain interruptions that have been causing product shortages and higher prices for everything from cars to groceries.
Spending and demand are way up from the start of the pandemic, but labor shortages and other factors are making it harder for people to get the things they need.
In a pre-pandemic world, Dallas-based chef Meika Johnson was thriving preparing meals for private businesses.
"We were at 110 meals a week," she said.
But in recent months, Johnson has struggled to find both food and equipment for her business.
"Because the products are short and in demand, prices have gone up drastically," she said.
Now, Johnson is forced to shut down meal prep services at Chef Mimi LLC, saying she’s spent more searching for products and less time actually making a profit.
"I used to be able to get a pack of salmon for maybe $8. Now, that same pack of salmon is going to be $17, $18, $19.
And a big part of those price hikes and shortages, the shipping and delivery of goods are facing a nationwide roadblock.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the issue Tuesday afternoon.
"The ports and the ability to move goods through ports is certainly one of the big bottlenecks," she said.
On Tuesday, the Department of Labor released new statistics showing a sharp increase in the number of people leaving their jobs, specifically in the retail, food service, transportation and delivery industries. The most recent data is from August.
In the transportation industry, there were twice as many job openings as there were new hires. And the number of people leaving their jobs almost equaled the number of people being hired.
In essence, companies can’t catch up.
"We’re basically missing four million workers from the workforce.
SMU Economist Mike Davis says there are many reasons for the supply chain issue, but the labor shortage is definitely a major player.
"It’s why you’re seeing fewer items on store shelves and higher prices for everything from groceries to gas," he said. "And as I say, everything kind of snowballing all at once. But these labor shortages and now these higher energy prices are really, I hate to be a pessimist, but they are gonna be a problem."
According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas has doubled since the start of the pandemic. Production from oil suppliers is one issue. Fuel delivery is another.
"The shortage of delivery truck drivers clearly has an impact at the retail level. If it takes longer and costs more to get delivered to the pumps, that’s going to be reflected in the price at the pumps."
Davis says supply chains interrupted by the pandemic are just starting to be reassembled now.
Experts warn this holiday shopping season will be a tough one, and gas prices will likely keep going up.
"When there is an issue at one place in the supply chain, that rebounds down the road and causes everybody heartaches," Davis said.
President Biden is set to host a meeting Wednesday on addressing supply chain issues. He is also expected to take executive action on reviewing the best ways to go about securing much-needed supplies from countries overseas.