Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

For Immediate Release


Karen Conner, 202-281-4159,

Press Release

The Economic Benefits of a Public US Postal Service


Recent changes to the United States Postal Service (USPS) imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy prompted reports of potential sabotage, lawsuits, and emergency Congressional hearings. A new report, released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) challenges long-standing misconceptions about and unrealistic expectations for the postal service’s fundamental function as a public service. This report proposes a clear alternative to calls for privatization or running the postal service “as a business.”

The US Postal Service Is a National Asset: Don’t Trash It, by CEPR Senior Research Fellow Max B. Sawicky outlines the economic principles that illustrate how notions of privatization and self-financing of the USPS are bad for the economy and undermine the federally mandated universal service obligation.

“It is common to declare the post office obsolete based on the decline in first-class mail,” says Sawicky. “Rather than ruminate on ways to carve up the service until revenues cover costs, consider its unique assets and ask what more could the USPS do in the national interest.”

Sawicky frames the public postal services’ unique assets in a series of economic principles.

  • The last mile of postal routes — from main roads to individual delivery points, especially in low-density, rural areas — is not efficiently served by more than one mail delivery service, making the postal service a natural monopoly. This means there is no efficiency to be gained from multiple last mile delivery services.
  • The concept of economies of scale, where increased output reduces the cost per unit of output, is seen in the postal service’s tradition of low prices for every class of mail, regardless of the required trip from source to delivery point. The postage for a first-class letter from Baltimore to Philadelphia is the same as one from Miami to Anchorage. Reducing prices and expanding service would be a move in the direction of greater economic efficiency.
  • Cheap delivery of letters or packages to any US location is worth something to all, regardless of whether they use it. The benefits of mail delivery extend beyond the direct users of the mail, making it an explicit public good, or what economists call an external benefit. Historically, postal service expansion played a major role in the nation’s economic growth since its inception during colonial times.
  • Economies of scope refer to the production of two related goods or services that result in combined cost savings. The possibilities inherent in this economic concept could mean a robust future for the USPS. But the execution of the concept, especially in the postal service’s case, is fraught with neglect and abandonment. For example, Sawicky recounts the abandonment of postal banking, which was successfully operated from 1911 to 1966. 

“A strong public sector and postal service are essential under the current threats of a pandemic and an economic recession,” says Sawicky. “As a public service, the United States Postal Service has provided a significant boost to the nation’s prosperity and well-being. Privatization for the sake of self-financing is a move in the wrong direction. The service should be returned to a department of the federal government proper, expansion opportunities explored, and regular budget appropriations should cover any shortfalls in operating costs or promised benefits to postal workers.”


The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo