In 2019, more than a quarter of the USPS workforce was African American, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is double their share of the overall US population. The number of Black postal staff is even greater in the District of Columbia, Delaware, and Maryland, where more than 60% of workers are Black, according to the Pew Research Center. In Chicago, approximately 84% of the city’s postal staff is Black, according to a 1999 government accountability report.

Many positions at the USPS do not require a college degree but still pay well, offer benefits and a federal pension, as well as the opportunity to earn decent overtime. The average annual salary for a postal worker in 2019 was $51,740. By comparison, the median income for a Black American in 2018 was $27,595.

Black workers have already been disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. These include greater job losses and unemployment compared to whites, less government aid for Black-owned small businesses, and delayed access to federal assistance funds due to a greater proportion of unbanked Black households.

Last year, left-wing politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders suggested the USPS expand its operations to support postal banking. This isn’t a radical or new idea: public postal banking services exist in countries like Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, India, and South Korea. Services like check cashing, bill payment and electronic money orders could generate as much as $1.1 billion in annual revenue. This would also significantly help the millions of Black Americans who don’t have bank accounts and currently rely on expensive alternative financial services.

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