Envisioning America's Future Postal Service
By Ben Cooper, Executive Director of The Print Council
The Postal Service has summoned leaders of the mailing industry to a three hour meeting on March 2nd entitled "Envisioning America's Future Postal Service." While details of the meeting were not released, it is fairly certain that the Postmaster General and other leaders of the USPS will be discussing the challenges they face and the paths they hope to follow to dig their way out of the current financial hole.
It is not hard to see the problems but it is very hard to see how they will reach the solutions in the near term. The problems are:
- They need to close unnecessary facilities
- They need to reduce delivery days
- They need to "refinance" their mandatory payments to the retiree medical fund
- They need to reduce employment
Others see their problems in a different way but the USPS has been talking these message points for months. Ironically, they have no control over the first three (Congress does) and the last one is subject to collective bargaining. Congress has shown no interest in reducing delivery days or closing post offices in an election year.
If mail volume were growing, these problems would not be so important but mail volume (or at least revenue) is expected to continue to decline more. The challenge for the USPS is that they do not know where the bottom is. The best guess is somewhere around 160 billion pieces.
Previously, declining revenues could be offset by a rate increase. It is generally believed that a rate increase now would simply accelerate losses as advertisers look for lower priced alternatives.