Supply chain issues could be bugging NJ consumers for years
It's been well over two years since the coronavirus pandemic started making an impact in New Jersey and elsewhere, and consumers are still seeing significant wait-times related to the goods and services they've counted on for decades.
Businesses claim they continue to battle with delays from suppliers both in the U.S. and beyond, meaning production time is still lagging, along with their ability to ship to customers.
"You're not going to see any fundamental changes in a couple of months. You're talking about a couple of years," Richard Michelfelder, clinical associate professor of finance at Rutgers School of Business-Camden, told New Jersey 101.5.
The pandemic sent a shock to the system that can't be ironed out overnight, Michelfelder said. Labor-wise, many laid-off workers decided to retire or search for a new line of work, while entities on the production side shut down for good or adjusted how they do business, such as maintaining tighter inventory and essentially only creating product when it's demanded.
"There's no such thing as a pre-COVID economy anymore," Michelfelder said. "This is something that the modern economy has never experienced."
Non-pandemic factors, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, and souring China-U.S. relations, have impacted the supply chain as well, he noted.
According to an analysis of Census Bureau survey responses through April 2022, conducted by Filterbuy, 42% of New Jersey businesses were experiencing domestic supplier delays, and close to 20% were dealing with foreign supplier delays. In turn, a quarter of businesses were experiencing delays with shipping to customers.
"Supply chain logistics has been the backbone of the American economy, really for decades. But nobody really hears much about it until, unfortunately and tragically, the pandemic made us all really aware of it," said Tan Miller, director of the global supply chain program at Rider University.
Supply chain issues were around and prevalent pre-COVID, Miller noted — the pandemic just accentuated them. For example, the state and country have been dealing for years with a shortage of truck drivers.
"Maybe we can say, a couple years down the road, it'll be like, quote, old times," Miller said.