Postal Service cuts will delay 1st-class mail
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service on Monday unveiled proposed changes that would slow the delivery of the nation's mail as the cash-strapped agency seeks to save billions of dollars by closing hundreds of mail processing facilities and cutting tens of thousands of jobs.
If enacted, the changes would take effect in March at the earliest and upend a standard practice since the 1970s that now delivers about 96 percent of first- class mail overnight.
With first-class mail volume plummeting about seven percent annually, "We've got more capacity in our [delivery] network than we can afford," Postal Service Vice President David Williams said.
First-class mail deliveries peaked at 104 billion pieces in 2001, according to Williams, but fell to 73.5 billion pieces delivered last year. USPS is likely to process just 39 billion pieces of first-class mail annually by 2020 -- a 46 percent drop from 2001.
"We've got to set our network up so that when volume continues to drop, our network is nimble and flexible enough to respond to those volume losses," Williams said.
USPS wants to shutter about half of its remaining 461 mail processing facilities; 26 have closed since September, Williams said. The changes should save USPS about $2.1 billion annually and trim at least 28,000 jobs, part of a broader plan to cut $20 billion in costs and as many as 120,000 positions by 2015.
Closing the processing facilities -- which could leave some western states with just one central location to sort mail -- would lengthen the distance a piece of mail travels between its initial drop-off point and its final destination, likely meaning slower delivery of letters, DVD rentals, mail-order prescriptions and magazines.