New Policy Brief Shows Importance of Postal Service to Black Families in Present and Future

March 1, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

In February, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) released a new policy brief, titled “Black Families Have a Major Stake in the Future of the Public Postal Service.” The brief, written by Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, and Brian Wakamo, shows the present importance of the public Postal Service to Black families, while discussing how they would benefit more with expanded services such as postal banking.

In the brief, Anderson, Klinger and Wakamo discuss the importance of the Postal Service as a source of good union jobs for Black workers. “In 2020, Black workers made up nearly a quarter of the Postal Service workforce — more than double their share of the total U.S. labor force,” the brief says. “Postal workers have the highest average annual wage ($51,740) and the highest median hourly wage ($25.03) among the 10 occupations with the heaviest representation of Black workers.”

Cutting services in order to lower costs would not only have a profoundly negative affect on Black workers, but fail to meet the needs of Black families that the Postal Service is uniquely equipped to address.

Though the Postal Service is experiencing severe financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued burden of the retiree health benefits pre-funding mandate, the brief argues that instead of cutting services to bring costs down, as the APWU argues, the mandate should be repealed and the USPS should expand services into the financial sector.

Expanding into postal banking, the brief says, would meet important social needs, providing banking options for the 13.8 percent of Black households that do not have a bank account, compared to just 2.5 percent of white households.

Additionally, the brief says, “a 2019 S&P Global report found that majority-Black neighborhoods have lost more bank branches than non-majority-Black neighborhoods. JPMorgan, for example, reduced the number of branches in majority- Black areas by 22.8 percent from 2010 to 2018, compared to a decline of 0.2 percent in the rest of the country.”

“With more than 31,000 post offices across the country and a high level of public trust, USPS is well-positioned to provide dependable, affordable financial services,” the brief says. “According to a 2015 USPS Office of Inspector General report, expanding postal financial services such as check-cashing, ATMs, and electronic money orders could generate as much as $1.1 billion in annual revenue.”

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