Post Office Closures Could Stamp Out Up to 5,000 Jobs

As many as 5,000 postal employees will lose their jobs as the U.S. Postal Service moves ahead with plans to close nearly 3,700 post offices across the country.

The list of closings, which Postmaster General Patrick Donohue released Tuesday, are part of an effort by the Postal Service "to be more efficient and provide better services," the agency says.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia will be affected by the shutdowns, which are expected to result in savings of as much as $200 million and help reduce the agency's amount of red ink, Donohue said at a press conference.

A majority of the post offices slated for closure have little foot traffic and generate sales of less than $50 a day that results in staff working an average of less than 2 hours a day, the Postal Service says.

The closings are expected to begin within the next four to six months.

Record Declines

Among postal employees affected by the shutterings are about 3,000 postmasters, 500 supervisors, and another 500 to 1,000 clerks, CNN Money reported. The Postal Service employs about 574,000 employees and operates about 32,000 post offices.

During the 2010 fiscal year, which ended last September, the Postal Service posted an $8.5 billion loss, more than twice the $3.8 billion it lost during the prior year. In the most recent quarter, which ended June 30, the agency lost $2.2 billion, CNN Money noted.

The Postal Service is experiencing record declines in both mail volume and revenues, due in part to increased use of email, says Richard Geddes, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University.

The worst declines are in its most profitable services, such as first-class mail. "As a result, it is incurring record losses and expects to lose over $8 billion this year," Geddes says, adding, "The long-term outlook for the Postal Service is bleak."

Rural Areas Affected Most

Many of the post offices slated for closure are in rural areas. To fill the gap, more than 2,500 "village post offices" will be opened in pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail outlets.

Rural communities aren't the only places that are likely to lose their familiar post office, Bloomberg News reports. Outlets at New York City's Port Authority and Roosevelt Island, and in Newark, N.J., are also among those those being considered.

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