Hard times around the nation are also hitting an American standard associated with delivery through snow and rain and heat and gloom of night: the United States Postal Service.

Hard times around the nation are also hitting an American standard associated with delivery through snow and rain and heat and gloom of night: the United States Postal Service.
Wednesday, Postmaster General Jack Potter told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that economic conditions may make it necessary to “temporarily reduce mail delivery to only five days a week.”
Major media outlets are reporting that previous post office studies have considered the possibility of forgoing Tuesday rather than Saturday mail delivery.
Last year, USPS reported a $2.8 billion loss last year. The forecast is gloomy, Potter said.
“If current trends continue,” Potter said, “USPS could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year.”
And that’s a significant problem for the USPS. Namely, because federal laws dictate that the USPS can only absorb $5 billion worth of debt.
Therefore, the money has to come from somewhere, said Pittsburg postmaster Bob Beasley.
Beasley has seen jobs unfilled recently. Even his staff has gone from 19 full-time employees to 16. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other area layoffs, but significant.
Nationwide, the USPS has cut from 750,000 employees to just 600,000 employees.
But that is still not enough, officials say, and that leaves few options.
Potter noted several actions already taken or under way, including:
• Indefinitely suspending building new post offices.
• Salary freezes for all officers and executives.
• Reduction in staff at headquarters and at the nine area offices.
• Early retirements (USPS has accepted 14,000 already).
• Reduced travel budgets.
• Consolidation of duplicative mail processing operations.
Beasley explained that even with those moves, it came down to the economy being poor, which means less money and transactions. Less money and transactions means less mail. Less mail means less postal service revenue.
That leaves the postal service with two options: Raise more revenue through raising stamp prices or cut service days.
“We have stretched the limits of our system as they have never been stretched before,” Potter said. “No one knows at what point mail volume will bottom out.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.