Do you know your neighborhood postal worker who comes by every day to deliver mail to your mailbox? Ever get excited to see them deliver a letter or a package? Well, the United States Postal Service (USPS) might just close soon. Wait, what!? How would we get packages or letters? Before we dig into why the USPS is in trouble, let’s take a look at the organizations’ history.
Frustrated with how the Royal Mail, a postal delivery system used in the early British colonies, delivered newspapers in the late 1700s, a printer named William Goddard laid out the first plans for the USPS. Then in 1775, Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father of the United States, appointed the first postmaster general, and thus began the establishment of a country-wide postal system. In 1792, The Postal Service Act passed legislation to officially become the United States Postal Service.
Today, the USPS has more than 600,000 employees and is required to serve all US citizens, no matter where they live. The USPS has set up an elaborate network of road, rail, and plane carriers who deliver mail to every corner of the country. So even though there are other mail delivery companies like FedEx or UPS, only the USPS reaches every nook and cranny. In fact, FedEx and UPS use USPS to deliver to remote locations! Also noteworthy, the USPS is how many people vote with mail-in ballots! That’s right—the USPS even plays a role in our elections! Awesome, right?
So why would the USPS possibly close? Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but the USPS is running out of money. People don’t mail letters as much as they used to, and even with packages being shipped every day all around the country, the USPS doesn’t make enough money. Additionally, Congress passed an unusual law in 2006 requiring the USPS to pay retirement funds to its employees in advance, which costs the agency five billion dollars every year. And so the USPS’s funds have dwindled, with predictions that it might start closing as early as October 2020 if it doesn’t get funding from Congress soon.