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For nearly 250 years, USPS has been a cherished giant of public life. (Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)

For nearly 250 years, USPS has been a cherished giant of public life. (Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)

The Postmaster General’s Manufactured Mail Slowdown and Racial Inequality

Compared to the national average, mail delay complaints are nearly 50 percent higher in zip codes with populations that are more than 45 percent Black, Indigenous, or other people of color.

Taryn MacKinney

 by Inequality.org

With just days until the 2020 election, the U.S. Postal Service is handling a historic surge in mail-in voting.

At the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), our recent analysis of USPS records, which we received via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, suggests that the number of mail-delivery complaints has risen since March, especially in communities of color.

9 in 10 people in the United States approve of the Postal Service, making it the most popular government agency.

For nearly 250 years, USPS has been a cherished giant of public life. Its reach is immense: In 2019, postal workers traveled 1.34 billion miles to deliver nearly 143 billion pieces of mail around the globe. Its employees number more than 630,000, and it handles 48 percent of the world’s mail.

Its size has not tarnished its image: 9 in 10 people in the United States approve of the Postal Service, making it the most popular government agency.

But this year, the USPS faces new challenges. The pandemic has depressed its revenue. Cost-cutting measures by the Postmaster General have strained its work. And millions of voters have already mailed ballots.

How is the USPS faring under this pressure? How did we get here? And how can we ensure that all mail, including ballots, are delivered on time?


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Taryn MacKinney

Taryn MacKinney is an investigative researcher for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

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