Fact Check: Four Of Five 'Fun Facts' About the Postal Service Are NOT True

Fact Check

  • by: Arthur Brice
Fact Check: Four Of Five 'Fun Facts' About the Postal Service Are NOT True Employs More

Does a meme promising "fun facts" about the USPS contain only true facts? No, it doesn't. Although the United States Postal Service employs more than 500,000 people, the agency is in debt, it costs taxpayers $100 million a year, it only became self-sustaining in 1970 and it is not the largest employer of veterans.

The meme appeared in a post on August 6, 2020, on a Facebook page named "Gone Postal " (archived here) with following text:

WORTH REPEATING ... USPS FUN FACTS It isn't in debt and never was. It costs taxpayers $0. It has always been self-sustaining. It employs over 500,000 Americans. It is the largest employer of veterans.

This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Aug 24 18:41:34 2020 UTC)

The meme makes five claims, four of which are false.

No. 1: It isn't in debt and never was.
False. The Government Accountability Office reports that by the end of the 2018 fiscal year, the Postal Service was nearly $143 billion in debt. The GAO notes the USPS has lost $69 billion over the past 11 fiscal years.

The USPS expects to lose about $13 billion in the fiscal year that ends September 30, 2020, and $54 billion in the next 10 years, then-Postmaster General Megan Brennan said in April. The pandemic, she said, caused an unprecedented drop in mail.

The GAO points out that expenses are growing faster than revenue, due in part to rising compensation and benefits costs and continuing decline in the amount of first-class mail.

No. 2: It costs taxpayers $0.
False. The Postal Service receives about $50 million a year from the federal budget to offset costs of free mail for the blind and overseas voters, according to the USPS annual budget proposals for recent fiscal years.

No. 3: It has always been self-sustaining.
False. The Postal Service was a Cabinet-level agency drawing funds from the federal government until 1970, when Congress made it independent and self-sustaining. It has a yearly operating revenue of around $70 billion, according to the 2019 USPS fiscal year results.

No. 4: It employs over 500,000 Americans.
True. The agency employed about 633,000 people in fiscal year 2019, according to the USPS annual report.

No. 5: It is the largest employer of veterans.

False. The USPS employs 97,000 military veterans, according to usps.com. It ranks behind the Pentagon, which employs some 343,000 veterans, according to the Department of Defense.

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  Arthur Brice

Arthur Brice is a fact checker at Lead Stories. He has been a journalist for more than 40 years, nearly 30 of them in newspapers. Brice was a national desk editor and reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for nearly 20 years. Previously, he was political editor at The Tampa Tribune and also worked for three other Florida newspapers. He spent 11 Years as an executive editor and executive producer at CNN. 

Read more about or contact Arthur Brice

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