The United States Postal Service today announced it is finally following through on plans to drop Saturday mail delivery, though it will continue six-day package delivery and Saturday mail delivery at post offices.
USPS spokesman for Wyoming, David Rupert, said even he was surprised that the cog in the rumor mill finally came loose.
He said it has been "a very, very long time" since USPS hired in anticipation of this day, letting positions go through attrition. Remaining employees have been given overtime hours, sometimes delivering two entire routes.
"We've really stretched our people," Rupert told the Business Report.
While the Postal Service will reduce annual work hours by 45 million nationwide, Rupert said he doesn't anticipate layoffs to make the transition to add Saturday as a day where no mail is delivered, rain or shine. Instead, USPS will cut back overtime and make better use of part-time and flex workforces to absorb the equivalent of 22,000 full-time jobs the hours cut represents, Rupert said.
Overtime will be the biggest savings for the service from the change, which overall will save $2 billion annually.
This is the latest in a series of cost-saving efforts from a service that has been upstaged by electronic intervention — something USPS refers to as "digital diversion." Rupert said First-Class Mail, in particular, has been in pain as customers pay bills online, email and otherwise switch to electronic communications.
"A lot of people opt to pay bills online and at 46, 47 cents at a time, that adds up to billions of dollars," Rupert said.
In fact, the change has been so dramatic that the service has reduced career workforce by 288 percent since 2006, or 193,000 employees. This represented part of the effort that reduced annual operating costs by $15 billion.
According to a USPS release, 70 percent of Americans support the switch to five-day delivery.
"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 Donahoe in a release. “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.”
In Wyoming, this is just one step in the ongoing saga. According to Rupert, at least two processing centers — Rawlins and Rock Springs — will be dropped and combined with other processing centers — Cheyenne and Salt Lake City, respectively. While he admitted some jobs would be lost through those transitions, he wasn't sure exactly how many, but it would be less than 20. By contrast, Colorado Springs, Colo., where Rupert is based, will lose 300 jobs.
USPS decided to keep Saturday delivery of packages since that area has grown 14 percent since 2010.
"That's a growth category and we want to foster that growth," Rupert said. "That's the one area we're growing."
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