U.S. Postal Service dealing with tough economy

Because of the current economic downturn, the United States Postal Service is taking certain tough but necessary steps here in the St. Louis area and around the country. In order to maintain affordable service and remain viable, we’re making changes to operations, staffing, and facilities similar to what other businesses are doing in these tough economic times.

That perspective is important to keep in mind. The postal service is a self-supporting agency, funded entirely from the sale of postal products and services, not from tax dollars. Like any commercial business, the postal service is subject to increased costs and reduced revenue. We’re facing competition from e-mail and online bill paying. And this past year we’ve seen some of our biggest mailing customers, in fields like financial services, insurance, and housing, struggle at an unprecedented level.

This general economic decline has had an historic impact on the volume of mail, which fell nationally by an unprecedented 9.5 billion pieces, or 4.5% last fiscal year, resulting in a net operating loss of $2.8 billion after the postal service paid a law–mandated $5.6 billion to prefund retiree health benefit liabilities.

We did not escape this trend here in central and northeastern Missouri and southern Illinois where mail volume was down by 9.1million pieces.

This stark reality requires action. We are taking steps to manage costs, increase efficiency, and optimize our workforce.

Eligible workers were offered early retirement, redundant mail processing operations are being consolidated, routes are being reorganized, overtime is being reduced and operating hours at processing facilities and post offices are being adjusted to match mail flow and customer use. We’re even relocating some blue mailboxes from low-volume to growth areas.

We’re adapting products and services to contemporary lifestyles and working to improve customers’ experiences in post offices, on usps.com, and by phone. We’re launching competitive shipping prices, driving technology, and using our service to every home and business in new ways to create value for customers.

We recognize these steps will have an impact on employees and some will require a difficult adjustment. People may end up doing a different job, working different hours, or in a different facility. These changes help to secure employees’ jobs, allow us to weather this economic storm, and be positioned to best serve customers when the economy rebounds.

The postal service has been a vibrant part of the highs and lows of every economic cycle for more than two centuries. We will keep it that way by pursuing innovative approaches that support our mission of delivering trusted, affordable, universal service to America.

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