Post office closings may affect rural North Dakotans

The following information was released by North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad:

Senator Kent Conrad met today with Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe to discuss his concerns about the fate of North Dakota’s rural post offices as the United States Postal Service contemplates widespread closures to cover budget shortfalls.

“The U.S. Postal Service is facing serious budget shortfalls and is being forced to shutter post offices across the country, including many in rural areas,” Senator Conrad said. “We must find a way to assure the solvency of the United States Postal Service while still delivering mail efficiently to our rural communities.”

The Postal Service recently announced that in an effort to save as much as $500 million in the next two years it will close or consolidate about 2,000 facilities. This is in addition to the 491 offices it announced it would begin closing at the end of last year. Closures would likely be to facilities that do not generate enough revenue to cover costs. These are mostly small, rarely visited retail locations and likely to be in rural areas.

The Postal Service has not yet generated a list of locations scheduled to close, and has noted that it will take a variety of considerations into account when making closure determinations.

The Postal Service has run multi-billion dollar losses since 2007. It has cut costs by more than $9 billion and reduced its workforce by more than 105,000 since 2008. However, financial problems continue to plague the service. The downturn in the U.S. economy dramatically reduced mail volume. In addition, communication that was once done by mail has been replaced by electronic communications.

Senator Conrad urged Donahoe to gather input from the potentially affected communities and study the impact a closing would have on these areas.

“In many cases, the post office is the bedrock of a community. Shutting it down could have a ripple effect, impacting the local economy and closing off the community to the outside world,” Senator Conrad said.

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