United States Postal Service Cuts Will Hurt Rural Areas Most

  The discontinuation of Saturday mail could put a kink in the lifeline of many rural Americans.

The United States Postal Service announced Wednesday, that beginning in August, only packages will be delivered on Saturdays. The move is expected to save about $2 billion.

City dwellers may not see much need for Saturday mail, but Al Cross, director of the Kentucky Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, said Kentuckians in rural areas can’t just shrug off the change. The parcel service will ensure prescriptions are still delivered on time to rural areas, but daily mail is still an essential service for many, and the change to Saturday delivery could lead to a wider change in shipping.

“The mailers, seeing that they can’t get things delivered on Saturdays will go with private delivery services,” Cross said. “Many of those private delivery services do not go out into remote rural areas.”

Congress could reverse the decision, but Cross doubts that will happen, given the new congress’ fiscal hawkishness.  

“If the postal service keeps running deficits, the government’s supposed  to step in and help it out,” he said. “The other thing is, rural America is now only 16 percent of the population of this country, according to the census. And it lacks the political punch that it used to.”

The IRJ’s Rural Blog also outlines how this move will effect the delivery of small newspapers:

Newspaper groups have fought efforts to stop Saturday delivery; some small daily newspapers, many of which publish on Saturdays, have moved to mail delivery to eliminate carrier costs. Max Heath, postal consultant to the National Newspaper Association, said the move was a bad business decision: “This move will only speed up the loss of business mail volume due to lack of delivery for Saturday newspapers and shoppers, and slower overall delivery of Periodicals and Standard Mail used by newspapers, with resultant loss of subscribers and advertisers. USPS fails to properly calculate or consider the lost revenue that will accompany the overly-rosy cost-saving projections.”
 

Gabe Bullard

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.

@gbullard

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