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The Editors

America’s Jammed-Up Ports Need Help

For too long, U.S. seaports have lagged the world. Resisting automation is part of the problem.



Photographer: Tim Rue/Bloomberg

As supply-chain woes have wreaked havoc on the global economy, one chokepoint in particular has stood out: America’s woefully inefficient ports.

Ships idling off the coast, waiting to offload goods, have become an icon of paralysis. At one point last week, about 200,000 containers were stranded aboard anchored vessels outside the Port of Los Angeles. East Coast seaports have seen similar lags. Such delays impose serious costs: Retailers face shortages, manufacturers have slowed production, goods have spoiled, and exporters have lost customers. Experts expect the crunch to last for months.