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VERIFY: No, if half of US adults bought a book of 20 stamps, it would not solve the USPS deficit

A viral claim says that 'if just half the adults in the US bought a sheet of stamps...it would raise about $1.5 billion for the USPS." Our VERIFY team took a look.

WASHINGTON — QUESTION:

If half the US adult population purchased a sheet of stamps for $11, would it solve the USPS deficit? 

ANSWER:

No. The U.S. Postal Service has been in a deficit for over a decade.

SOURCES:

United States Postal Service- "FY2019 Annual Report to Congress," "The U.S. Postal Service Five-Year Strategic Plan FY2020-FY2024" and Postmaster General Louis Dejoy's written testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

PROCESS:

A viewer asked us to Verify a meme going around saying, "Is this something that would help the USPS get out of debt?"

The meme reads, "if just half the adults in the US bought a sheet of stamps, around $11, it would raise about $1.5 Billion for the USPS #SAVETHEUSPS."

Actress Kerry Washington tweeted something similar, which was retweeted more than 13,000 times and liked nearly 42,000 times.

So let’s verify, if half the adults in the United States purchased a sheet of stamps would that be enough money to solve the USPS deficit?

We started with some simple math. Using U.S. Census Bureau population estimates from 2019, about half of the U.S. adult population would be about 127.6 million people.

At 55 cents a stamp, a book of 20 forever stamps costs $11.

So, if 127.6 million people purchased an $11 sheet of stamps that would come out to about to $1.4 billion. 

Even if that was all pure profit, $1.4 billion wouldn’t "save" the USPS.

Our researchers looked at the Postal Service's FY2019 annual report to Congress, their strategic plan for FY2020-FY2024, and Postmaster General Dejoy's written testimony submitted to both the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

In the strategic plan, USPS said, "since 2007, we have suffered 13 years of consecutive net losses totaling $77.8 billion, with an $8.8 billion net loss in 2019 alone."

If you look at written testimony from Postmaster General, Lois DeJoy, submitted to the House and Senate committees, he lays out a complicated issue.

"Our financial position is dire, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a statutorily-imposed business model that is broken, huge legacy retiree healthcare and pension liabilities, and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues," his statement reads in part. " As a result, the Postal Service has experienced over a decade of financial losses, with substantial net losses every year since 2007."

So, we can Verify, this meme is false. While purchasing one sheet of stamps will boost their revenue, it won’t "save" the postal service. It’s much more complex than that.

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