Inflation has reached record levels this year, and just about everything from the effects of the pandemic to the war in Ukraine have been cited as contributing factors. For a lot of people, the impacts of inflation are usually quick and direct — the price of that gallon of gas you bought this week compared to last week — but it’s a more complex story when it comes to the U.S. Postal Service.
The U.S. Postal Service has almost 80,000 rural delivery routes serviced by some 133,000 rural letter carriers. For some of those routes, USPS provides the vehicle; for others, the carrier uses a private vehicle and receives a maintenance allowance from the Postal Service for wear and tear. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, the Postal Service paid out nearly $583 million in maintenance allowances — a rise of $71 million, or 13 percent, over FY 2015.