Sep. 15, 2011 at 10:47 AM ET
Snail mail is about to get even slower.
The U.S. Postal Service, burdened with huge financial losses, said Thursday that it was facing a "new reality" that would include shutting a slew of processing facilities, changing service standards for first-class mail and cutting up to 35,000 positions.
The moves will mean first-class mail will no longer reach most customers the day after it was dropped in the mailbox.
"We are forced to face a new reality today,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a statement. “First-Class Mail supports the organization and drives network requirements. With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic."
The Postal Service said the moves are designed to save it $3 billion a year.
The news comes after the agency recently announced it was studying shutting hundreds of post offices across the nation as its business erodes amid the growing use of e-mail and other Internet tools. The agency has reported a series of financial losses that have pushed it to the edge of insolvency.
The Postal Service said mail volume has dropped by 43 billion pieces over the past five years and is continuing to fall.
It said its processing system was designed to deliver mail within a one- to three-day period. That period will be stretched to two to three days with the current changes that include studying almost 250 processing facilities for consolidation and slashing mail processing equipment by as much as 50 percent.
The Postal Service funds itself through the sale of postage and other services and does not rely on taxpayer money to fund its operation.