Should U.S. post offices also be banks? Lately, a group of legislators including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been championing the idea as a way to address economic inequality.
It might seem far-fetched, given how the postal service has been struggling recently to even deliver the mail. But the idea shouldn’t be dismissed.
Many people in America lack access to decent, fairly priced financial services. As of 2019, an estimated 7.1 million households had no bank accounts. About 14% of Black households and 12% of Hispanic households are in this position. A constellation of businesses — payday lenders, check cashers, tax preparers, auto dealers and so on — acts to fill the gap, but often at excessive cost. A study in 2011 found that paying for these services can eat up almost a tenth of an unbanked household’s income.