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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

Rural post offices hoping for a break

The US Postal Service is hemorrhaging money – over the past year, it lost more than $5 billion. To staunch the negative cash flow, the postmaster general is looking at closing nearly 3,700 post offices – the vast majority in rural America. In this week's Health & Wealth update, KBIA's Austin Fax checks in to some very small towns where post offices may be on the chopping block.

By Austin Fax

In Missouri, the Postal Service is looking at shutting the doors of 167 rural post offices. The proposed closures are part of the Postal Service’s attempts to streamline and modernize mail delivery, and stay afloat: the service hopes to save $200 million year by closing unprofitable rural post offices around the country. It's looking at other measures too, like eliminating Saturday delivery, cutting employee benefits, and reducing staff. By 2015, the service will need to cut $20 billion a year to be back in the black.

Here's a map of possible closures in mid-Missouri:

Residents don't want to see their tiny post offices shuttered. Many say it's about more than mail service:

"Someone called it the other day sort of our rural Facebook," said Arrow Rock resident  Kathy Borgman. "Other people communicate electronically, but we actually see each other face to face down at the post office and a lot of times we visit and see what's going on."

In Missouri, residents have until December 5 to register comments on the possible closures. 

Click here for a complete list of the 167 Missouri post offices under consideration.