Postal Job Cuts Threaten Black Middle Class
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Postal jobs have long been popular among African American, middle class families, as they often guaranteed prestige, a good living and opportunities for growth. But according to Reuters, that legacy is diminishing, with the U.S. Postal Service having eliminated 168,000 jobs since 2006. More cuts are expected, meaning major economic challenges for minority workers.

According to the report, African Americans make up about 20% of U.S. Postal Service professionals and are the majority in some urban centers, representing 75% to 80% of the 5,000 letter carriers in the Chicago area alone, according to Mack Julion, president of the Chicago branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The report adds: “The slower recovery for African-Americans in the labor market has, in part, been the result of government layoffs after the end of the recession was declared, according to the DOL report.” Overall, black unemployment remains high at 14%, almost  double that of whites.

The Postal Service has seen a hit due to the preference of e-mail among consumers, as well as hefty retiree payments to the government. Its board of governors met recently to discuss cost-cutting measures to strengthen the service’s finances after losing more than $15 billion in fiscal year 2012.

Self-funded by postage sales, the Postal Service attributes most of the losses on a pre-funding requirement enacted by Congress in 2006 that requires it to make annual payments of nearly $5.5 billion in health benefits for future retirees.

This comes on the heels of Black History Month, where several luminaries of their industries who were once postal workers, including “The Jeffersons” actor Sherman Hemsley; Harlem Renaissance author Richard Wright; Naval pioneer Samuel Gravely Jr; and innovative surgeon and researcher Charles Drew.

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.