The U.S. Postal Service has been agitating for so long to cut back mail deliveries to five days a week that when the announcement came Wednesday that it was doing so — congressional approval or not — few Americans seemed surprised or outraged. Indeed, given the USPS’ precarious financial condition — including a loss of $15.9 billion last year — how could anyone be?
The quasi-public mail service company has been losing money for decades, but the losses have really accelerated in recent years, as more Americans switched to the Internet to communicate and pay bills. Despite massive cost-cutting measures, something had to give.
We’ve opposed the idea of a Saturday suspension because it will force customers to go two days in a row without delivery, and a lot of elderly and rural Americans still rely on mail for things like medicine, money and news.
But the postal service says it will still deliver parcels on Saturdays, which means people who receive medicine by mail should still get it — and the USPS won’t sacrifice any revenue from one of the only profitable parts of its business. As for other things (like magazines) that businesses time to reach customers on Saturday, they’ll just have to send them a day earlier, in time for Friday delivery.
Another reasonable concession: The postal service will continue its regular Saturday hours, allowing customers with PO boxes to get their mail, and others to conduct normal post office business (that some people can’t conduct during the week).
Eliminating one day’s delivery per week will save the postal service $2 billion, which is a lot of money, but hardly enough to reverse its losses. So Congress, which has unfairly burdened the service in recent years with a requirement that it pay future retirees’ health insurance benefits up front, may have to do a little less micromanaging.