Is the US Postal Service Shutting Down?
US Postal Service in Financial Trouble, Facing Partial Winter Shutdown
The US Postal Service will have less than a week's worth of operating money left after the end of the fiscal year (September 30). The USPS mainly delivers bills and junk mail these days, as email and social media have taken shark-sized bites out of private correspondence.
A bulk-rate-only diet has left the Postal Service anemic. In the last five years, overall mail traffic has dropped by over 20%, and much of that has been retail-rate postage: You aren't writing letters to your friends or sending them birthday cards; you're sending email instead.
This is not a new trend, and the US government will ultimately have to re-envision the postal system, if not for tomorrow, then for the day after.
The US Postal Service will face a $9.2 billion deficit, and won't be able to pay off $5.5 million that it owes for workers' comp and retirees' health care. Should federal action not be taken, the USPS will have to at least temporarily shut down.
The USPS is pushing for several cost-cutting measures, including the elimination of Saturday delivery, 3,700 post office closures, and 120,000 layoffs. This constitutes 1/5 of the total USPS labor force, a labor force with a no-layoffs clause in its contracts.
So far, Congress has denied a USPS request to repeal the law requiring it to deliver mail six days per week, though it's not clear why this is still necessary in the 21st Century.
The American Postal Workers Union will of course fight to prevent layoffs. Neither side of the aisle wants to be blamed for something as huge as the USPS failing, though the effort over the debt ceiling does not quite inspire confidence in a quick and decisive solution.