CBS News reported this morning that the United States Post Office has decided to end Saturday delivery of first-class and will phase out the practice by the end of this summer. As of August 1, all first-class mail—which includes pretty much all letters, bills, cards, and catalogs—will only be delivered on weekdays. Packages, express, and Priority Mail will still get dropped off on the weekend. The change would mark the end of weekend deliveries for the first time in 150 years.
The move is designed to save a company that is collapsing under mountains of debt, soaring costs, and a steep decline in customers. The USPS has cut more than 35 precent of its workforce in recent years, closed hundreds of offices, and cut back hours at the ones that remain open. Yet, the outfit is still losing more than $40 million a day, and is hamstrung by federal regulations that prevent it from making any major decisions (like rate hikes) without Congressional approval.
Unfortunately, canceling Saturday delivery would not even begin to fill in the company's giant financial sinkhole. Officials estimate that dropping first-class mail to five days a week will save $2 billion a year. Last year, they lost $16 billion.
Update 11:00 a.m.: Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe gave a few more details at a morning press conference, saying that the loss of Saturday mail would cut the equivalent of 22,000 full time jobs. However, through attrition and the elimination overtime the Post Office hopes to avoid having to lay anyone off. American Postal Workers Union has stated they are against the plan.
He reiterated that packages and medicines will still be delivered on Saturday. He also reminds everyone that the USPS takes no taxpayer dollars, but cannot legally borrow more money because Congress requires them to pay retirement benefits up front. He also reminded people that the Post Office used to deliver mail twice a day during the week, and we all survived the end of that.