Will Post Offices Become Obsolete?

The recent news that the U.S. Postal Service would like to begin the process of closing 2,000 post offices next month, begs the question -- are post offices still relevant?

CBS News Correspondent, Michelle Miller reported from the Maplewood, N.J. post office branch that the law makes closing a post office difficult. So along with considering those 2,000 closures, Congress is looking at a bill that would make it easier to shut down underperforming branches. That would drastically reduce the physical presence of the post office and could signal the beginning of the end of a branch near you.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. That unofficial creed has guided the U.S. Postal Service since the founding of our country. But in this age of digital communications, online bill paying and Federal Express and UPS, are physical post offices still relevant?

Harold Schutzman, of Fair Lawn, N.J., believes they are.

He uses the post office often and says he has a friend who works there, plus he doesn't like to pay online.

Despite intense customer loyalty, and delivering 24 million pieces of mail to American homes, six days a week, the current economic downturn may bring one of America's oldest and most trusted institutions to an end. With a record deficit this year of $8.5 billion dollars, the postal service loses a staggering $23 million dollars a day and is facing a growing number of problems.

"They have been hit like everyone by the recession, people are mailing less and then just in general the digital revolution, we text, e-mail and pay bills online so that's hurting mail volume," says Jennifer Levitz of the Wall Street Journal.

Add to that the exploding costs in retiree health care, and the problem could go from bad to worse. Federal laws mandate universal service and restrict the closing of post offices for economic reasons, but Congress is in a cost-cutting mood, Miller notes. And recently proposed legislation may make those familiar brick and mortar buildings a thing of the past, she says.

In addition to the 2,000 branches now in jeopardy, 16,000 are under review. The cuts are aimed mainly at rural and small suburban communities, but many folks are not going to let this go town without a fight. They say these offices are essential and part of their community, heloing to make their communities whole.

Read more:

Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices
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