Updated 07/04/2012 02:41 PM
USPS struggles to stay afloat
The era of email and online business has led to tough times for the U.S. Postal Service. But as our Tamara Lindstrom reports, the agency is hoping new measures could help it stay relevant.
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UNITED STATES -- The latest figures are no surprise to anyone linked into the modern world.
"The financial position of the Postal Service right now is, needless to say, a bit difficult," said Thomas Day, USPS Chief Sustainability Officer.
One obvious reason is the decline in mail use, with email and online business cutting into postage sales.
Day said, "We were at a peak just a few years ago of about 213 billion pieces of mail. And now we're at a point where we're at about 165 billion pieces of mail. So we've seen a serious decline."
But there's another expense cutting into the budget and creating problems.
"We have some legislation that was passed in 2006 that requires us to pre-fund retiree health benefits. And that has proven to be a bit burdensome and caused us to go into the red," Day said.
But USPS administrators are doing their best to adapt to modern communication. Like any other business, they're trying to make their product more appealing to customers and scaling back expenses.
"We're trying to move forward with legislation that would allow us to move from six to five days after we do some further study of its financial impact, and impact on our customers."
That change could be implemented as early as a year from now. Meanwhile, the post office has made stamps available online and at the checkout stand.
"The point is, make it easy for customers to access our services and in turn, it does two things. It saves us money and it helps the environment because it reduces the carbon footprint," Day said.
And hopefully will create enough revenue to limit the downsizing that's happening nationwide.
"We don't do layoffs,” Day said. “We would absolutely try to avoid layoffs. We just do it through natural attrition."
An inevitable casualty of the information age.
The post office is currently required by Congress to operate six days a week and it would require a change in legislation to drop Saturday delivery.