Stop Panicking About the Post Office
There are many reasons to be concerned about the agency’s funding, but some of the reaction is misplaced
A lot of fear and misinformation has been spreading throughout social media the past few days about the post office. People seem to think the sky is falling — that the United States Postal Service is in imminent danger and the Trump administration may undermine mail-in voting for the upcoming election. But they’re missing a lot of important context.
I am here to tell you that, yes, you should be concerned about the future of the USPS. People around the country have encountered a notable slowdown in mail service, and some USPS workers have raised alarms about new policies that affected mail delivery. But the whole sky isn’t falling quite yet.
There have been many developments over the last few days. The House Oversight Committee has announced it will hold a hearing on mail delays on August 24. It has invited Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify as well as the agency’s chair of the Board of Governors. DeJoy has agreed to appear, and on Tuesday, he followed up by promising to suspend his controversial changes to the mail service until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
So, stop panicking! Being concerned and taking specific, practical action is good; overreacting on social media is bad.
Let’s fact-check some claims, shall we? I know this is long, but please stay with me.
Claim: The USPS is in financial distress and will be insolvent before the November 2020 election.
Verdict: True about the distress; insolvency is off by 10 months.
The USPS is in a financial bind. The agency has had a net loss for most of the last several years. This is because the demand for shipping letters and flats (large envelopes, newsletters, and magazines) has declined steadily for over two decades. The costs for shipping letters and flats, however, have not declined as much. Less revenue with the same costs has resulted in the USPS taking financial losses.