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Post Office

Post Office Changes to Go Into Effect Just Ahead of the Holiday Season

| Angela Naff |

We all depend on the post office in this country to deliver bills, cards, gifts, and such. Every day most of us know when the mail should arrive at our home and have a daily, weekly, or such to gather the messages delivered. Unfortunately, this critical method of communication has long been embattled by funding, labor, and performance concerns to keep it fluid and operational at a level we have all come to expect.  In recent years many changes in service, pricing, and delivery times have been instituted to balance the budget of this massive organization. In October 2021, we are about to again see many changes at our post office.

To give some context, the United States Postal Service had an annual operating budget in 2020 of 73.1 billion dollars. They employ over 495,900 employees and moved 129.2 billion letters, packages, and such in 2020 alone. First-class mail volume was 52.6 billion of those pieces. They operate over 31,000 retail locations and 231,000+ delivery routes in the US. The post office in this country accounts for over 43 percent of the world’s mail delivery movements.

Big Changes for A Huge Agency

To address a host of issues within this huge agency Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s proposed a 10-year Delivering for America plan to overhaul the agency. The plan included:

  • Create a modernized Postal Service capable of providing world-class service reliability at affordable prices;
  • Maintain universal six-day mail delivery and expanded seven-day package delivery;
  • Establish workforce stability and investment strategies that empower, equip and engage each employee and put them in the best possible position to succeed;
  • Spur innovation that grows revenue and meets changing marketplace needs; and
  • Achieve financial stability to fund employee benefits, the organization’s universal service mission, and $40 billion worth of investments in people, technology, and infrastructure, such as upgrading the postal delivery fleet.

The ten-year plan is part of a huge undertaking including longer first-class mail delivery times and cuts to post office hours across the country are among the changes embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced back in March as part of a 10-year plan for the agency. The sweeping 58-page plan, titled “Delivering for America,” made many promises for the agency’s future. Unfortunately, the proposed changes meant some cutbacks in certain areas and increases to funding, which led to controversy about the plan.

Post Office

What does this mean for the mail basics?

For the most common types of mail that are used by households and businesses, there was a significant restructuring of service level expectations that will go into effect October 1, 2021, including:

First-class mail (standard-size, single-piece letters, and envelopes): USPS says 39% of mail will now be delivered in three to five days, depending on the distance between origin and destination. The rest (61% of local mail) will be unaffected and delivered in one to two days.

First-class package service (smaller, lightweight parcels): The Postal Service says 32% of packages will now be delivered in four to five days. The longest distances have the longest timetable (such as between California and New York). The remainder (68% of packages) will still be delivered in two to three days.

Periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers): The USPS says only 9% of publications will now be delivered in up to five days, and 93% will still be delivered in two days or less.

More expenses will be passed on to consumers to deliver cards and packages this year with all these changes. Anyone alive for the last couple of decades knows stamp price hikes are nothing new, but it remains to be seen if this increase can deliver on the Postmaster General’s promises of balancing the budget and modernization. We all should plan to ensure that additional delivery times are accounted for in all our mail as we enter the end of the year. Those last-minute Christmas shoppers and card mailers should add just a bit of padding to their procrastination schedules.

We all depend on the USPS to get our mail and items to us; the hard part is there really isn’t another effective alternative, especially in the small first-class size and price. We continue to support this agency to the tune of billions of packages each year and must participate in these prices for the most part, whether we like them or not. Hopefully, the new changes will help see this service well into the future with a more stable bottom line to carry it well into the future.

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos

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