Postal Service plans to cut Saturday mail delivery

The United States Postal Service announced Wednesday that come August it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays. The change is expected to save the service about $2 billion a year.

“Saturday was picked because it is the lowest volume day,” said Postal Service Atlanta contact Michael Miles. “We just don’t need six days to deliver mail.”

The service will continue to deliver packages, the only area of growth for the Postal Service. The volume of packages has grown 14 percent since 2010.

The amount of letter mail — specifically first class — has dropped significantly in recent years.

Last year the service had a net loss of $15.9 billion.

Though the Postal Service has advocated for congressional approval to end Saturday delivery for some time, Congress has resisted. The service is required by a 1981 congressional mandate to deliver mail six days a week, but post office officials argue that the mandate does not apply because the government is operating under a stopgap budget measure.

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the change would “have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers” like small businesses, rural communities and the elderly.

But postal employees should be safe.

The Postal Service doesn’t intend to lay off anyone, said Miles. Through attrition, reassignment and early retirement packages the service should be able avoid cuts.

“Job layoffs would be an absolute last resort and we don’t expect it,” he said.

There are approximately 5,500 letter carriers in the Atlanta district, which encompasses all of North Georgia. Miles said the Postal Service has reduced its workforce nationally by about 193,000 since 2006 without a single layoff.

Lisa Munroe handles data processing for Tucker Mailing Printing & Distribution, a company in Atlanta that prints magazines, postcards, flyers and the like, then delivers the products to the post office.

She said one day can make a big difference for some of her clients.

“The types of companies that are affected are the ones having quick sales or are advertising an event,” she said. “If it’s going to be on Monday or Tuesday of the next week then it would be nice for that mail to hit on Saturday.”

The key for companies that depend on Saturday delivery, said Miles, is to adjust the mailing schedule.

“What would have been a Saturday delivery now becomes a Friday delivery,” he said.

“This is not something that we just started looking at recently — we’ve been working with businesses and business mailer groups for a long time. They’re on board with us and can work with us.”

Average citizens will have to deal with the change, but many might not care.

For instance, all people who receive Social Security and other federal assistance are required to sign up for direct deposit by March 1. The government will no longer mail checks.

Mableton resident Roy Pierce said he and his wife like getting mail but can wait until Monday.

“It wouldn’t bother me,” the 71-year-old said. “I just don’t see how a weekend might make a difference.”

Post offices open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays. Mail will continue to be delivered to the offices that day.

Shipping expert Doug Caldwell said the Postal Service has seen a 37 percent drop in first class letter mail since 2005 and is losing too much money to continue without changes.

“The handwriting is on the wall: This is something the post office has to do,” he said. “Either you get rid of Saturday delivery or something else has got to give.”

Caldwell spent 18 years with the Postal Service and is now with AFMS, a consulting company that helps shipping businesses around the world minimize their costs.

Ending Saturday delivery to save money isn’t a new idea, he said. Canada switched to five day delivery in 1969. Australia and Sweden, among others, also deliver fives days a week.