Postal Service Cutbacks to Affect Blacks

Forget the inconvenience of being unable to patronize your local branch, the severe cutbacks will mean much more for many Black families employed by the postal service.

Posted: 12/06/2011 03:29 PM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Lead representative of the Eastern Region of Amercian Postal Workers Union Fran Owens shouts slogans during a Save Amercia's Postal Service rally September 27, 2011 in Washington, DC. The workers called on Congress to pass H.R. 1351, which would allow $6.9 billion in pension overpayments by postal workers to be used to pay this year's pension obligations. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It seems like when it comes to Black unemployment, when it rains, it pours.


The U.S. Postal Service announced Monday that it will shut down 252 mail processing centers and cut 28,000 jobs in order to skirt impending bankruptcy. While this news may come as a disappointment to the entire country, for the African-Americans who make up more than a fifth of the USPS’s workforce, the move is even more devastating.

"People have raised their kids with these jobs and bought homes in the Black community," Chicago postal worker Adrian Peeple, 42, told the Chicago Tribune. "It'll be a huge impact if they started laying off or cutting back on people who've been working here for quite a bit of their lives."


Although the move wasn’t a surprise, the announcement’s bitter arrival came just days after national unemployment numbers were released, showing that once again, Blacks are faring worse than the national average. Many say that the disparity can be traced to the large number of Blacks who rely on the ever downsizing public sector for employment. In Chicago, for example, nearly two-thirds of the 212 city employees facing layoffs are Black, the New York Times reports.

"When no one else would hire former slaves, the Postal Service did so," U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush told the paper. "For that reason alone, the post office has been a significant block in the building of the Black middle class in America."

Overall, African-Americans make up 21 percent of the Postal Service’s workforce. According to data from the Government Accountability Office, in 2002 Black men accounted for 11.2 percent of career postal workers compared with 5 percent for the overall workforce. And although Black women makeup only 6.3 percent of the overall workforce, they make up 10.1 percent of all career postal workers.

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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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