The way we have come to know mail delivery will soon change according to leadership at the U.S. Postal Service. In an effort to address economic concerns and changes in consumer technology, the agency will soon force layoffs and a shortened delivery schedule.
The moves are a result of record losses for the Postal Service, topping $8.5 billion in fiscal year 2010 and an estimate of $6.4 billion for fiscal year 2011. The Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent group, recommended that 7,500 administrative, executive, and postmaster jobs be eliminated, some through attrition and buyouts. The remaining positions would have to be ended through forced layoffs. Saturday deliveries of mail and packages will be nixed on the new schedule. The changes are estimated to save $750 million per year.
Managerial offices in Columbus, OH; Albuquerque, NM; Billings, MT; Macon, GA; Providence, RI; Troy, MI; and Carol Stream, IL, will close as a cost savings to the agency. In addition to the management shrinking, over the next two years up to 2,000 post offices will also close. Since 2009, 105,000 employees have been let go through attrition and early retirement.
Consumers are going to feel the pinch more than expected under the new plan. Postal officials originally thought that eliminating Saturday deliveries would only delay mail by one day for some people. The commission found that it could be upward of a two-day delay for 25 percent of mail. The service cuts will save $1.7 billion, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission.
The service cut is not a new idea, as it was first introduced in 2009. However, Congress has to approve changes with the Postal Service and has not yet enacted the proposal.
The changes to the agency are the fallout from several years of decline in the volume of mail processed by the USPS. The popularity of email, instant messaging, online banking, and cheaper mobile voice and text services contributed to the severe decline in the the Postal Service’s popularity. The agency also faces stiff competition from FedEx, UPS, and DHL with door-to-door package delivery.
Observers agree that the agency is overdue for an overhaul. The Postal Service is in need of a retooling for the new economy to accommodate changes in how consumers ship mail and packages. Also, budget issues at the federal level make now an even more critical time for trimming the fat.