If you’re confused by the U.S. Postal Service’s myriad strategies to pull itself out of financial distress, you’re not alone. Postal officials have floated many ideas to save money in the past two years — including the closure of thousands of post offices across America — only to pull back after communities and politicians pushed back.
The Congressional Research Service is weighing in this week with a primer on post office closures. The latest development on this front is the Postal Service’s about-face on a plan it announced last year to shutter about 3,700 money-losing post offices. In May the plan changed: Most of these operations will stay open, but about 13,000 post offices will operate with drastically reduced hours instead.
CRS’s report, released this week, has a simple mission: To answer common questions about post office closures — starting with an explanation of what a post office is.
Also covered are how many postal employees might lose their jobs, the role of regulators in the closure process and how many post offices could be shuttered. That’s without question a moving target.
Here are some telling facts in the report: The country had 42,287 post offices in fiscal year 1971. In the last fiscal year, there were 35,119 — a 17 percent drop. Also, lawmakers have introduced more than two dozen bills in the 112th Congress to address the Postal Service’s financial problems.