The United States Postal Service is a Constitutionally mandated entity which has come under fire these past several years for inefficiencies, budgeting shortfalls, and now potential voter suppression efforts. Despite the internet making mailed correspondence less common, the USPS matters today more than ever before.
The USPS Provides Secure Middle-Class Jobs
The USPS is one of the largest employers of military veterans in the country where the workforce has ranged from approximately 20% (current day) to as many as 50% of the employed postal workers. Similarly, the USPS has long been a reliable employer for African Americans, making up approximately 20% of the current workforce since the 1960s. Historically, the USPS offered job security with less discrimination than non-government industries and it afforded the opportunity for many to move into the middle class. (Read more about this in the book, There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and their Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality.) Moreover, nearly 40% of the workforce is female. These middle-class jobs directly result in stronger communities. Postal workers are public servants and invest directly in the communities they serve.
The USPS Serves Rural and other Fiscally Impractical Areas
Because the USPS is mandated to serve the American public, they serve areas that are fiscally inefficient or impractical. Many rural areas would typically be unserviceable by normal business models but the USPS is able to provide consistent and reliable service without discrimination. In these rural areas, internet access is not widely available and services like bill payments are still done exclusively by mailed correspondence.
The USPS Serves as a Lifeline
Unhoused individuals are able to access critical services like Medicare, social security, and disability through USPS post office boxes. Many seniors and other house-bound individuals rely on its regular delivery of medications and checks. In some areas, the USPS serves many functions that a bank would when there is no outpost. On a community level, postal workers perform welfare checks on isolated, elderly, and disabled individuals through its Carrier Alert Program that uses an accumulation of mail as an indicator of potential accident or injury.
The USPS is not Tax-Payer Funded
Despite being constitutionally mandated, the USPS is not actually funded by tax payers. Beyond the jobs, the community investments, and the undiscriminated service it provides to all Americans, the USPS is under fire primarily because of a budgeting issue as a consequence of an outrageous 2006 policy that was intended to bankrupt the institution. The USPS is otherwise completely self-funded through sales of postage, products, and services.
The USPS is More Relevant than Ever
Today, with a pandemic creating the need to distance from one another, the USPS has again risen up to serve our nation. It has seen a surge in deliveries from individuals now doing their shopping online. It continues to partner with private businesses to offer last-mile deliveries as individuals attempt to connect with friends and family in socially distanced ways such as letter writing. And of note for 2020, the USPS will service a significant and critical surge with an unprecedented number of vote-by-mail ballots being utilized.
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