After much discussion of a possible bankruptcy, the United States Post Office has decided to make major cuts to operations instead. Big changes loom in the horizon, including the closing of several locations and jobs, unless Congress steps in to help.
The U.S. Postal Service has been suffering financial trouble for years now as more people move to online communication mediums and the need for shipping or stamps has dwindled. As part of a billion dollar cost cutting initiative, the agency has plans for more than 260 mail processing centers around the nation to be closed by mid-May. Many of these processing centers will be consolidated with other locations nearby, only a few of which will be closed altogether.
The closing of processing centers is expected to bring with it the loss of 35,000 jobs, many of which have been occupied by employees for the better part of a decade. Such significant cuts in job positions is anticipated to devastate local job markets and economies when the streets are flooded by hundreds of newly unemployed people. Further, cuts in operations is sure to bring reductions in customer service and an overall slowing of mail processing times.
Although the Postal Service is an independent agency, it is largely controlled and regulated by the government. With limited decision making ability, the agency must first seek approval from Congress in order to make changes to operations. Last week, the Postal Service requested help from Congress by asking for flexibility in operations, cuts to employee pensions and permission to raise the cost of stamps by 5 cents in order to avoid an estimated $18 billion loss over the next 3 years.