Most Americans Support Suspending Saturday Mail Delivery

by InvestorPlace Staff | June 27, 2012 6:38 pm

[1]While Congress quibbles over what to do about the billions of dollars of debt the United States Postal Service faces, many Americans support an idea the Postal Service has floated before — ending Saturday mail delivery[2].

According to a poll done by the New York Times and CBS News, seven out of ten Americans surveyed favored eliminating Saturday delivery. The move would help the Postal Service recoup some of the $36 million it loses each day, with projected losses estimated to hit $21 billion by 2016.

The poll found that the vast majority of Americans do use the post office at least sometimes — eight out of ten surveyed. Among those surveyed, 38% use it all the time, 45% use it for bills, and 16% either use it only during the holidays or never.

However, usage numbers plummet among younger Americans. Only three in ten Americans under the age of 45 use it regularly, with usage climbing to 42% of those aged 45-64 and 54% of those aged 65+. Figuring out how to increase usage among younger citizens is perhaps the biggest challenge the Postal Service faces.

Currently, there are bills that have been introduced in both the House and Senate[3] that are aimed at fixing what ails the post office, even as the Postal Service has moved to cut hours at rural locations[4] to save money. The Senate bill would offer retirement incentives to 100,000 of the Postal Service’s 547,00 workers, allow for beer and wine deliveries, restructure payments into a health benefits fund required for future retirees, and recoup $11 billion from overpayments into a pension fund. The House bill would create a commission similar to one used to recommend military base closings to oversee shutting down post offices and mail-processing centers.  The Senate bill has been passed, while the House bill has yet to come to a vote.

While many citizens wouldn’t mind ending Saturday mail delivery, it’s been a harder sell to Congress.  The Senate bill would only allow for the end of Saturday deliveries if the Postal Service was unable to find other ways to cut costs. The House bill would not require such a delay to eliminate Saturday deliveries.

Also opposed to the move to end Saturday deliveries are businesses like CVS (NYSE:CVS[5]) and Medco (NYSE:MHS[6]), who say it would harm their mail-order pharmacy business by delaying orders for prescription drugs. Small daily and weekly newspapers have also expressed concern that delayed delivery would interfere with the timely delivery of news.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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