Fox News is reporting a major announcement by the Post Master General today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to discontinue Saturday letter delivery. The agency would continue to deliver packages six days a week. (Per federal law, USPS does not operate on Sundays.)
The decision to reduce letter carrying to five days a week is one of the cost reduction approaches advocated by congressional postal reformers such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). With USPS posting a near $16 billion operating loss last year, the move, at a cost-savings of $2 billion, is one of the changes that could help the agency stay alive.
Unfortunately for those who like letter service, legacy costs like high levels of workers’ compensation use and generous pension guarantees are coming up against the switch by consumers to email and other electronic messaging services.
When looking at the numbers, today’s USPS announcement makes sense. According to the report, the agency’s percentage of letter deliveries has fallen since 2010 while package delivery rose 14 percent. Reformers typically want government agencies to act more like businesses to reduce the cost to taxpayers while maintaining an acceptable level of service. Unless Congress gives USPS more flexibility or some money (currently USPS receives no appropriations), a leaner Post Office, with fewer services, seems like the most likely way forward.