People are using the Internet to pay more bills and send more messages. The weak economy is reducing advertising. So what do Americans think about the need for the post office?
Ohio State University graduate student Allison Fisher says she pays most of her bills electronically, so if postal services were to decrease or end, it would affect her much less than it would her grandmother, who uses mail for tasks such as bill-paying.
"It just seems until everything gets converted to electronic, I think people still need, you know, the post office," she said.
Catalina Ramos, 53, a Los Angeles care provider, said she does all of her banking and bill paying through the mail. She said she hoped the government would offer the Postal Service any needed financial support because she didn't want to see it have to cut corners to make ends meet as a private business.
Private entities such as banks offer less convenient hours, less attentive staff and less stringent data security, she said. "Everything coming from the government is better."
Caroline Carter, a 45-year-old Montgomery, Ala., nurse, said she likes to use the Post Office when she mails gifts to out-of-town friends and family members. "It's better to me and easier to access. I'd rather come here than look for UPS," Carter said. She said she uses the Internet some for shopping, but prefers to use the post office for shipping.
Brian Swords, 50, a trade consultant from Los Angeles, doesn't think the post office should start getting a government subsidy. He still pays some bills by mail and likes receiving magazines.
He also receives stacks of catalogs in the mail from companies such as L.L. Bean, which he and his family like paging through even though the merchandise could be ordered online. "My little girl likes it and my wife sits there and pores through it," he said.
Jovita Camesa, 75, who lives in a downtown Los Angeles retirement complex, said she's sending more first-class mail than ever, due to her ever-expanding circle of grandchildren.
Camesa said she wouldn't think to use the Internet for those birthday and holiday greetings or start going online to seek out the articles she now reads in the issues of Vogue, Readers Digest, Prevention and other magazines that are delivered to her. "I'm not interested in the Internet or computers," she said. "I'm very traditional."