ESCANABA - Although customers won't receive letters or magazines on Saturdays after August, cuts to the U.S. Postal Service aren't expected to impact local customers otherwise, a regional mail employee said.
The U.S. Postal Service's cost-saving measure to no longer deliver letters on Saturdays is slated to begin later this summer, according to the media representative for Upper Peninsula post offices.
"It will begin the week of Aug. 5. We're required to give a six-month advance notice," explained Sabrina Todd, media relations coordinator in Grand Rapids.
The decision to no longer deliver letters and magazines on Saturdays is expected to save the financially-struggling postal service $2 billion a year nationwide once the change is in place, Todd said in a telephone interview with the Daily Press on Wednesday.
"Our financial situation is very critical," she said, adding the postal service has been experiencing a decrease in the volume of first class mail since 2006.
"Our package business is growing so we are going to maintain delivery of packages on Saturdays," she said.
Nationwide, the agency's package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined due to increased use of Internet services such as email.
Though decreased letter volume is partially to blame for the postal service's financial woes, rising mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits affects the agency's pocketbook the most, said officials who announced the delivery change on Wednesday.
Once the Monday-through-Friday mail delivery is in place, post offices which currently have window services available to the public on Saturdays will continue to be open to receive outgoing mail and sell stamps and retail products as usual on Saturdays, Todd said.
Mail delivery to post office boxes will also continue as usual on Saturdays, she said.
Besides not receiving letters and magazines on Saturdays, the change is not expected to impact local customers otherwise, Todd said. A survey of customers showed that 70 percent agree the cost-saving measure makes the postal service financially responsible, she noted.
No Saturday mail delivery on city and rural routes is expected to create savings on transportation expenses and employee hours. The impact on personnel is uncertain at this time, Todd said, adding officials are meeting with union representatives on the upcoming delivery change.
In an effort to save on costs, the postal service has been restructuring its retail, delivery and mail-processing operations in recent years. Since 2006, the self-funded agency has cut costs by about $15 billion a year, reduced its career workforce by 28 percent (193,000 workers), and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing facilities.
The postal service, an independent agency, does not receive taxes for daily operations.