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Originally published: 2013-02-07 15:46:23
Last modified: 2013-02-07 16:26:10

Saturday mail delivery to end in August

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it will end at-home mail delivery on Saturdays starting the week of Aug. 5.

Packages will continue to be delivered six days a week, and mail addressed to post office boxes also will continue to be delivered on Saturdays.

The change is expected to save about $2 billion annually for the U.S. Postal Service, which has struggled financially in recent years due to customers’ changing mail habits and other causes.

Donna Coffey, a longtime employee of the U.S. Post Office in Blowing Rock, anticipated a minor impact for local residents.

“It will have very little effect on us because people will still be able to access their post office boxes on Saturday,” she said. “People can still come in and rent a post office box if they want to pick up their mail on Saturday.”

Monica Robbs, a North Carolina spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service, said approximately 20,000 to 25,000 full-time-equivalent positions nationwide will be eliminated as a result of the change. The Postal Service expects to shed most of those jobs through attrition or reassignment, she said.

“We haven’t ironed out the specifics,” Robbs said.

The Postal Service has advocated for a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages for the past several years. But since 2010, package delivery volume has increased 14 percent, leading to the revised approach announced this week.

Meanwhile, the number of standard mail pieces delivered on Saturdays remains “considerably lower” than during the business week, Robbs said.

Robbs said the Postal Service is still working to determine which types of items — boxes, bubble mailers, etc. — will qualify as packages.

Express Mail, which provides overnight delivery to most U.S. locations, will not be affected by the change, she added.

The Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars for operations, has been working to stay afloat during the past several years. In fiscal year 2012, it experienced a $15.9 billion loss.

Since 2006, the Postal Service has reduced its career workforce by about 193,000 positions — about 28 percent — and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing facilities.

But the announcement Wednesday came with a plea for Congress to consider legislation that would tackle problems outside the Postal Service’s control.

“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. “The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”


— Jeff Eason contributed to this story.