Charting Post Offices

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The U.S. Postal Service is still struggling to compete in an era of declining paper mail, and as private industry and Congress have resisted its efforts to reform, according to this story in today’s The New York Times.

The agency’s troubles, which could result in the closing of thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail processing centers as early as next month, have many sources. Some are the inevitable result of technological changes, and others are the result of missteps by the Postal Service.

But top Postal Service officials and outside experts say that another, underappreciated factor has been an insistence by Congress that the service not compete directly with private companies, even as companies like FedEx and U.P.S. have encroached on the Postal Service’s turf.

This chart shows the historic growth, and recent decline, in the number of post offices:

See larger version | Data source: USPS

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