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First class mail will take longer

The U.S. Postal Service announced that it would shutter more than half of its processing centers in 2012, increasing the number of days to deliver some mail, and threatening more postal service jobs.

An announcement today from the U.S. Postal Service: send that birthday card a day earlier, your first class mail is going to take longer to reach its destination.

The Postal Service is shutting slightly more than half of its 461 processing centers as early as March 2012. That will mean slower first class mail delivery, taking 2-3 days rather than the current 1-3 days.

The cuts will save about $3 billion and help the quasi-governmenatal agency avert bankruptcy, it said. The Postal Service is on the hook for $5.5 billion for retiree health benefits, and it’s staring down a total budget shortfall of more than $14 billion next year.

Shutting down the processing centers will cost 28,000 people their jobs, and that’s on top of the 70 000 people losing their jobs with the planned closure of 3,700 post offices nationwide. The Postal Service employed more than 580,000 people in 2010, and is the second largest civilian employer, just after Wal-Mart.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the agency must make cuts of $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable. He also said its business model is failing, and argues that he can’t continue to run the business in the red.

The annual report (PDF) shows operating revenue of $67 billion in 2010, expenses of $75 billion, and a loss of $8 billion. Its operating margins have deteriorated over several years, from negative 3.7 percent in 2008, to negative 12.4 percent in 2010.

About the author

Duncan Wilson is an intern in the Marketplace New York bureau.
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There was no mention of the Congressional requirement, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, for USPS to forward-fund retirement and medical costs for all employees. This money, now at 8 billion dollars, is in a restricted account and not available to pay expenses. No other government agency is required to do this. The Postal Service has been doing the job for over 200 years. If USPS closes and mail delivery is privatized, there will be no regulation setting the cost for first-class and other mail, post office boxes or any other postal service; costs may rise like those at the gas pump.

Why don't you speak to the reality of how truly insecure our electronic communication is? How about the surcharges that institutions charge to retrieve past information regarding online accounts? Aren't physical records still a logical way to conduct personal affairs?

What if USPS embraced email? Emails could then be covered by many of the regulations that benefits users of physical mail, including the right to privacy, secure delivery and protection from mail fraud.

Legitimate businesses could register with USPS to send out advertising, for a small cost for each email sent.

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