The U.S. Postal Service announced it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays in attempt to save the troubled federal agency $2 billion a year. It will continue to deliver packages six days a week, a service that has seen a 14 percent increase since 2010.
E-mail and other electronic communication has lead to a dramatic decrease in letters and mail sent through the post office, contributing to a $15.9 billion loss in the agency's last budget year and tripling the $5.1 billion the Postal Service lost the previous fiscal year. The losses are in part due to reduced mail flow, but also due to operational costs like labor and health benefits that were responsible for $11.1 billion in lost revenue.
The Post Office said research conducted by the agency showed that almost seven in 10 Americans would be in favor of eliminating Saturday delivery:
The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits … We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings.
In response to the growing losses over the past few years, the post office has lobbied for decreased delivery service to help reduce costs. Congress, however, has failed to approve the five day schedule of the independent agency that remains subject to congressional control. At this point, it is unclear how Wednesday's announcement stopping Saturday delivery could take effect without the approval of Congress, even though the Postal Service doesn't receive any tax dollars for everyday operating costs.
The National Association of Letter Carriers opposes the move, and called for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to step down for attempting to "flout the will of Congress." The organization said the elimination of Saturday delivery would not only harm the Postal Service, but small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, and the disabled:
This misguided and counterproductive decision is in keeping with the Postmaster General's slash-and-shrink approach to dealing with the Postal Service's financial challenges. Instead of offering a real business plan to tap the full potential of this essential American institution, he is offering a plan that will doom USPS to failure.
The cutback in mail delivery would come in August, with no business or home delivery taking place on the weekends. Post office boxes would receive Saturday mail, and post office locations that have Saturday hours would remain open.
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