US Postal Bankruptcy Would Hit Rural America Hardest

Issued on 2 May 20

As postal workers strain to meet demand for deliveries of medicine, food, and other essentials, the U.S. Postal Service is facing potential financial collapse due to plummeting mail revenue. Without a major cash infusion, the USPS is on track to run out of money before the end of September, according to the Postmaster General.

A USPS shutdown would be devastating for the entire country, but especially for the rural communities that rely most on a public service with a universal mandate to serve every address, no matter how remote.

A new Institute for Policy Studies report finds that the 15 most rural U.S. states would face

heavy blows to jobs, revenue, mail and package deliveries, and voting rights.

The U.S. Postal Service is a critical source of decent jobs and revenue in rural states

In the 15 states with the largest share of their population in rural areas, more than 75,000 people work directly for the Postal Service — more than are employed in many other major job categories. The total mailing industry employs nearly 700,000 people and generates more than $150 billion in revenue per year in these heavily rural states. Twelve of these states have larger than average shares of 65 and older residents, a group that tends to rely heavily on USPS for medicine, bill paying, and other services

Other carriers rely heavily on USPS for “last mile” rural deliveries

UPS, FedEx, and Amazon rely on the USPS to handle the “last mile” of their package deliveries, particularly in rural areas where USPS is the only carrier with a door-to-door network. USPS handled an estimated 55 percent of the final stretch of Amazon’s deliveries in 2018. For Fedex, the most recent available estimate is that USPS handled 30 percent of their total ground packages. These figures are no doubt much higher for rural deliveries.


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