Post Office Closings

The Washington Post published my investigation into post office closings in its Sunday Business section.

In February 2012, Reuters published my special report on which communities would be hardest hit by the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to shut thousands of post offices across the country. The report was also republished in The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

By overlaying the locations of the post offices with demographic data from the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department’s map of broadband internet availability, I discovered that most of the U.S. Postal Service’s 3,830 planned post office closures would hit sparsely-populated rural areas, many of which lack reliable internet. I then teamed up with Emily Stephenson in our D.C. bureau to see what impact the closures would have on real people.

We found that people in many of the communities impacted by the closings still lacked reliable Internet service and instead relied on the post office to help keep them connected with the world. The reporting led us to Dedham, Iowa, where postal officials explained during a town hall that the were planning to close their town’s post office because the internet was killing their business. One resident stood up and explained she had no internet, which was one big reason why residents in towns like Dedham opposed the USPS’s plans to close their post offices.

In May 2012, the Postal Service scrapped its plans to close the post offices. Rather than shuttering offices, the agency instead announced plans to cut the operating hours of 13,000 locations with little traffic. But the agency was still struggling financially as it waited for Congress to pass legislation that would reform its finances.