USPS Reacts to Shrinking Mail Volume

WASHINGTON, DC—Days after announcing cost-cutting initiatives designed to save more than $100 million a year, Postmaster General John Potter told a House subcommittee that without aid, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will run out of money this year. The USPS lost $2.8 billion in 2008 and stands to fall deeper into the red this year, its business exacerbated by the weak economy and a drastic decline in mail volume. On March 20, the USPS announced it was closing six of its 80 district offices. Nearly 150,000 employees nationwide are being given the opportunity to take an early retirement. Administrative staff positions are being cut by 15 percent, and more than 1,400 mail processing, supervisor and management positions at about 400 facilities around the country are being eliminated.

According to the Associated Press, Potter told the subcommittee that the USPS is “facing losses of historic proportions. Our situation is critical.” Potter said he would ensure that salaries are paid, but noted some bills may have to wait. The USPS is projecting a loss of $6 billion in 2009.

In a related story, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a non-binding resolution calling on the state of California and the U.S. Congress to create a Do Not Mail registry. The board approved the resolution, sponsored by supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, by a 9-2 vote.

“The symbolism is probably more concerning than the actual resolution,” says Lisbeth Lyons, vice president of Government Affairs for Printing Industries of America. “We don’t expect to see a nationwide bill introduced by Congress anytime soon, but it’s always concerning when you see a state the size of California, with its reputation for progressive leadership when it comes to initiatives like this, get involved in Do Not Mail.”

Printers, mailers, advertisers, small businesses and the USPS would be severely impacted by the creation of a federal Do Not Mail registry, and any state-passed registry would certainly provide a gateway to a national effort.

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