Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reuters wire service has comprehensive report on impact of post-office closures on rural America

Almost 80 percent of the 3,830 post offices that the U.S. Postal Service is considering closing "are in sparsely populated rural areas where poverty rates are higher than the national average," and almost 85 percent are in ZIP codes where United Parcel Service and Federal Express charge more to deliver packages, Cezary Podkul and Emily Stephenson of Reuters report in the most comprehensive package yet on the impact the closings would have on rural America.

"Moreover, about one-third of the offices slated for closure fall in areas with limited or no wired broadband Internet," a factor the USPS did not consider in drawing up the closure list. "Nearly 90 percent of the 24 million Americans without wired broadband access live in rural areas," Reuters reports, quoting Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange: "There's still a real digital divide between rural and urban America.vYou look at rural folks, they tend to rely much more heavily on the Postal Service for delivery of a wide variety of necessities than urban people."

The USPS has refused to reveal the revenue for individual post offices, but "did provide Reuters expense data for all post offices," the wire service reports. "The statistics show that closing all of the post offices under consideration would save about $295 million a year – about four-tenths of 1 percent of the Postal Service's annual expenses of $70 billion." William Henderson, postmaster general in 1998-2001, told Reuters, "That's not even a drop in the bucket. The bucket won't ripple."

Reuters' package includes a video report (above) from Lohrville, Iowa, which fears that it would lose its identity if it lost its post office, and a nice interactive map that shows the offices on the list, those in rural areas, those without wired broadband and those with package-delivery surcharges. Clicking on a circle gives you the data for that office. Here's an image of the version showing the rural offices on the list:
Click on link in text above or here for interactive map

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