- reduce the number of products and services provided
- lay off ten’s of thousands of US Postal employees nationwide
- permanently close all post office locations that continue to show a large net operating loss
Closing down as many as 3,700 post office locations? The process has already begun.
Laying off tens of thousands of postal workers? The Postal Service says it is inevitable.
However explicable the Postal Service’s economic reasoning, the human pain caused by all of this is going to be enormous — each of those men and women who will lose their jobs represents another family that will find itself with a breadwinner out of work in an abysmal jobs market.
We all understand that e-mail and text messaging have drastically changed the way that Americans write to each other. Over the course of a single year — from 2008 to 2009 — the Postal Service delivered 26 billion fewer pieces of mail. Those 26 billion pieces represent stamps that were never bought, and thus, operating revenue that the Postal Service never saw.
But almost lost in the current discussion of what can be done to salvage mail delivery is this fact of contemporary life — a historic alteration of the national landscape — that is already taking place:
The corner mailbox is disappearing.
That seems like a small thing to note, in the face of those warnings that the entire Postal Service could have to shut down, and in light of the impending job losses.
But if you have been thinking that you haven’t been seeing as many of those sturdy blue mailboxes as you once did, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. And their removal from America’s cities and towns is emblematic of fundamental shifts in the way daily life is led.
According to reporting done by Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle, there were almost 400,000 of the blue mailboxes in 1985. Today there are only 160,000 left, with more being torn from the ground and carted away all the time.
The Postal Service, Jones reported, keeps a close eye on how many times we drop letters into our neighborhood mailboxes. If fewer than 25 pieces of mail a day make their way into a mailbox over a six-to-eight week period, that mailbox is flagged for removal.