WASHINGTON – The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that come Aug. 5 it will discontinue regular mail delivery service on Saturdays.
Package delivery will continue to operate on a six-day schedule, and hours at local post office branches will not be affected. Additionally, mail will still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays.
The measure will save the Postal Service about $2 billion annually; it lost $15.9 billion in fiscal year 2012.
“We’re now at the point where it is absolutely necessary to make that change,” Postmaster General and USPS CEO Patrick Donahoe said. “Our financial situation is urgent.”
The measures would cut 45 million work hours annually, which Donahoe said is equivalent to about 22,500 jobs.
Donahoe said the decision to discontinue mail service on Saturday but maintain package delivery was costumer-driven. He said about seven out of 10 people support the decision to reduce mail delivery service to a five-day schedule to cut costs.
“We can live without Saturday delivery, but at some point the government has to step in,” said Tony Hammond, 39, of McLean, Va., said. Most other industrialized nations have federally funded post offices, he said, while the U.S. Postal Service does not receive federal tax dollars. “What are they going to cut next?” he asked.
Stephanie Rafael, 24, of Miami, Fla., said the reduced service will be an inconvenience to her. She said the Postal Service should have raised postal prices rather than cut service.
The Postal Service has experienced a 37 percent decline in first-class volume over the last six years, from more than 35 billion pieces in 2007 to more than 20 billion in 2012. Donahoe said this is largely due to customers’ paying more bills online rather than by mail.
USPS has, though, seen a 14 percent growth in package delivery service from 2010 to 2012. “We think there is a very strong growth potential in the coming decade,” Donahoe said, especially with the popularity of e-commerce.
“People will say this is a responsible decision, it makes common sense,” he said.
Since 2006, Donahoe said, the USPS has reduced the workforce by 193,000 jobs—through attrition not layoffs—and the annual cost base by $15 billion.
American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey “condemns” the decision to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. In a released statement, he said “across-the-board cutbacks will weaken the nation’s mail system and put it on a path to privatization.”
He said USPS has already “slashed” mail service in previous years by closing 13,000 post offices or reducing hours of operation.
“Congress has the power to restore the USPS to financial stability,” Guffey said in an email statement.
While the USPS does not receive any federal funds, it is subject to oversight by Congress. The chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, and the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Sen. Tom Coburn, issued a statement supporting the service cut.