How Post Office Closures Affect Small Towns

English: The United States Postal Service Cont...

Back in June, we featured an article about the town of Pray Montana, which was for sale for $1.2 million.  What made Pray so special?  Well, despite having only 10 residents, Pray has its own zip code, and its own post office.

In a time where digital documents are replacing paperwork, and email is replacing “snail mail,” small town post offices are less commonly “open for business.”  In fact, the Internet, is more or less, “killing the post office.”

But, as many towns are finding out, the Internet can’t replace every aspect of mail service, and small, poor towns, stand to lose the most with a post office closure.  That’s because smaller towns and towns with less money tend to have spotty internet service and fewer residents that use, or know how to use, computers. And that’s bad news, since nearly 80 percent of the 3,830 post offices on the possible “chopping block” are located in sparsely populated rural areas where poverty rates are higher than the national average.  Moreover, one third of these closures are in areas with limited, or no wired Internet provider.

There’s an economic impact to the removal of a post office as well.  Fewer post offices mean longer drives to drop off packages and letters, which costs residents more money.  It also costs businesses more money and discourages new employers to move to the area. When a business has to drive 40 miles to make their postal deliveries, it has a big impact on the type of businesses that rural town will attract. And lastly, of course, there’s the loss of individual postal jobs associated with postal office closures.

What would the world be like without posts offices?  For some residents, it’s unimaginable.

“We’re not the ones in the big cities who are just emailing everything to everybody. We’re the ones that are actually still sending our Christmas cards and our birthday cards,” said Sarah Clyden, who runs a feed store in Oakwood, Okla., where the agency is considering closing the post office.

Adds Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange (which represents rural America):

“There’s still a real digital divide between rural and urban America.You look at rural folks, they tend to rely much more heavily on the Postal Service for delivery of a wide variety of necessities than urban people.”

via Special Report: Towns go dark with post office closings

Your Turn!  Has your town been affected by a post office closure?  How?  Tell Us!

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