Post Office Closures Concentrated In Rural Areas

The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday its latest round of closures. Up to 3,700 post offices could start closing as soon as early next year, and rural areas would be most affected.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

OK. The U.S. Postal Service says it may have to close nearly 3,700 post offices across the country in order to dig itself out of debt. As NPR's Alex Kellogg reports, the closings could start as early as next year and they'll affect rural areas the most.

ALEX KELLOGG: Rural areas like Stewart, Ohio, which is about an hour and 45 minutes' drive from Columbus.

Unidentified Person: Howdy.

Unidentified Man: Hello.

KELLOGG: The post office there is one of a handful of storefronts in this town of just 247 people.

Ms. MISSY COHEN: Well, it'd be an inconvenience. I buy my stamps and mail my packages from here. I don't go to Athens. I just do it here.

KELLOGG: That's Missy Cohen. She lived across the street from the post office in Stewart for the past 18 years. If it closes, she'd have to drive to Athens, the next closest town.

The Postal Service is trying to close smaller, lesser used post offices like this one to cut into a deficit that topped $8 billion last year. The move could save roughly $200 million. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the move would also involve a push to get small post office branches in existing businesses like drugstores.

Mr. PATRICK DONAHOE (Postmaster General): Hey, they're open seven days a week, 12, 14 hours a day. That's great for our customers, to be able to come in and mail and ship with us through that way.

KELLOGG: Other cost-cutting measures being considered: bills in Congress that if passed would end Saturday mail delivery, saving the Postal Service roughly three billion a year. Several hundred post offices have already closed.

Missy Cohen says that while she wouldn't want her post office in Stewart close, she'd understand why.

Ms. COHEN: Well, everybody's got money problems. You know what I mean? You need to downsize, I understand that, 'cause everybody's losing jobs.

KELLOGG: The U.S. Postal Service hasn't turned a profit since 2006. It's since been a steep decline, thanks to fewer people mailing items first class and the rapidly increasing popularity of email and other means for people to stay in touch.

Alex Kellogg, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.