With the advent of the internet, email, and paperless billing, fewer Americans are relying on a low-cost service that’s older than the country itself. The U.S. Postal Service recently slowed down mail delivery and raised the price of a standard postage stamp from 55 cents to 58 cents in an effort to make up for declining revenue. (Postal services are among the industries that will shrink the most over the next decade.)
The USPS lost $4.9 billion last year and $9.2 billion in 2020, which it attributed to a spike in demand for package deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic. Losses and waning demand began long before, however, and in response the USPS has closed post offices. The state that closed the most post offices so far is Kentucky.
Defenders of one of the oldest existing public institutions argue that slowing delivery could send the USPS into a death spiral even as many Americans still send mail the old-fashioned way, especially in rural areas. Other USPS frequent users include organizations that lack easy access to electronic alternatives, or people who find private for-profit delivery to be too costly.
To find the states with the most post offices per capita, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed USPS post office data by states. States are ranked by the number of post office locations that closed since the service was first established in 1775. State population data came from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. To break ties we used population data, with higher populations ranking higher.
More than 8,500 post offices have been closed in the 50 U.S. states since the country’s founding, led by 901 closures in Kentucky. Today, there are about 15 post offices for every 100,000 Kentuckians, which is comparable to Missouri, even though the Show-Me state has a larger population today and has closed far fewer post offices. West Virginia ranks third in the number of post office closures, but has relatively more locations compared to most states, at 38 post offices for every 100,000 residents. (Here are the states with the most post offices per person.)
Out of the 10 most populous states, Pennsylvania and New York lead in post office closures, at 377 and 371, respectively. Sixteen states have shuttered at least 200 post offices in the country’s history, while 13 states have closed fewer than 60.
Among the 10 states with the smallest populations, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Alaska have shut down the fewest number of post offices. The reason is intuitive: smaller populations had fewer post offices to begin with.
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