African Americans Could Suffer Most if Postmaster Is Right About Half of Post Offices Closing by 2018

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Faced with billion-dollar budget deficits, the U.S. Postal Service is considering drastic reductions in the number of post offices nationwide. The impact of this decision could be punishing for African Americans, who rely on government jobs more than other ethnic groups.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warned in June that the Postal Service may have to close about half of its 32,000 postal facilities within the next six to seven years. The downsizing could mean the loss of thousands of USPS jobs, with African Americans bearing the brunt of the layoffs. More than 2,000 post offices are already scheduled for closure.
The closures would be hardest felt by blacks because one in five adult workers currently relies on the government for employment. Comparatively, the rate is only 17% for whites and 15% for Latinos. African Americans have been employed by the Postal Service since the Civil War and by 1940, 14% of the black middle class worked there.
African Americans have endured unemployment at twice the rate of whites in the post-recession economy. As of May, joblessness among blacks reached 16.2%, while the percentage for whites was less than half: 8%.
The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion in 2010, but a significant amount of that money was for pension benefits earned by postal workers when they were in the military. Legislation in 2003 transferred that obligation to the USPS from the Department of the Treasury, which continues to pay for military service credits held by employees of every other government agency.
Around 375,000 government jobs have been eliminated since the beginning of 2008, according to the Department of Labor.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Ken Broder
PMG: USPS Needs Congress's Help (by Jim Tierney, Multichannel Merchant)
Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices (by Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal)


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