Few businesses have been immune to the country's rough economic times, and now the U.S. Postal Service is rethinking its operations to pinch as many pennies as possible.
For the second time this year, Postmaster General John E. Potter appeared before a House Subcommittee this week to outline changes the Postal Service will make to help it rebound from its loss in business.
"We are in uncharted waters," Potter told the subcommittee. "But we do know that mail volume and revenueand with them the health of mail systemare dependent on the length and depth of the current economic recession."
One of the ways the USPS will cut costs is by shutting down six of its 80 offices around the country, a move announced last Friday. Within five months, branches in Lake Mary, Fla.; North Reading, Mass.; Manchester, N.H.; Erie, Pa.; and Spokane, Wash., will no longer be in service. Ten nearby offices will take over their duties.
Closures should not affect mail delivery services, the Postal Service says. However, postal officials have already asked Congress to allow a reduction in mail delivery days from six to five.
The New Hampshire congressional delegation sent a letter to officials recently, asking them not to close the Manchester office. The letter said the consolidation was shortsighted, adding that the elimination of "efficiently run, centrally located offices is no way to overcome financial troubles," according to news reports.
USPS officials will also re-evaluate and adjust city delivery routes to make them more efficient. Construction of new facilities will be halted and those funds used to repair existing offices.
The country's recession has caused a mail decline of 5.2 billion pieces, according to reports, and the Postal Service predicts mail volume will plunge to 180 billion pieces by the end of the 2009 fiscal year. In 2007, that number was up to 212 billion pieces of mail, the Postal Service notes.
Even during its busiest monthsOctober through Decemberthe Postal Service reported a loss. As a result, it will take "aggressive cost-cutting measures," Potter says.
Management staff throughout the Postal Service's offices will be cut by 15 percent, eliminating more than 1,000 jobs. The service will also offer early retirement to 150,000 workers.
"These are extremely challenging timesfor the nation and for the Postal Service," Potter told the subcommittee. "We have done a great deal to preserve the future of our nation's mail system. But there is more to be done, and we must do it together."
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