Nightly News | December 05, 2011
>>> good evening. no matter how electronic and portable we may consider this current age in america, this time of year, mailboxes across this country are stuffed full of christmas cards and catalogs and it's all the job of the u.s. postal service to get it all there. make no mistake, it is remarkable to this day that a letter can go aa cross town in one day or travel vast distances just a day later, just for the price of a stamp. but today the u.s. postal service made it clear reality is about to take a bite. they've got to find $20 billion in operating costs. that means slowing everything down. that means everything that comes by mail. it's where we begin tonight with nbc's tom costello -- where else? at the post office . good evening.
>> reporter: good evening to you. the postal service is cash-strapped. it's lost a third of its first class volume. it's bloated, so it's cutting costs. that means slowing things down starting in the spring. the folks at the post office hate the term " snail mail ," but first class mail is about to get more expensive and slower.
>> mail that is dropped in a blue collection box will no longer receive overnight service standard.
>> reporter: that means what now takes one day to deliver could take two come spring. and the letter that used to get there overnight will likely take two days. magazines and newspapers could take several days. everything from movie dvds to prescription medications, bills, mortgage payments, you name it, will take at least a day longer to process.
>> it would affect my schedule and make sure that i do things earlier.
>> the post office is not as important, i guess, as it used to be just because of the age we live in of the internet.
>> in the grand scheme of things a day is not a big deal . if it keeps the post office afloat, keeps us having a post office , i can live with that.
>> reporter: blame e-mail and the internet. in ten years first class mail volume has dropped 29%. it's forecast to drop another 50% by 2020 and every 1% drop equals $300 million in revenue. now on the verge of bankruptcy it's raising the cost of a first class stamp by a penny starting in january. it wants to close 3,700 post offices . it plans to chose half the nation's mail processing centers while it cuts jobs and asks to cancel saturday delivery.
>> that gets us back in good financial state, gets our finances good and stable going forward.
>> reporter: the question, by making snail mail slower, does that push the post office closer to being obsolete? it is important to remember that we still pay 45 cents to mail a letter in maine and it will arrive in san diego three days later. clearly we still need the post office but maybe not quite as much. brian?
>> tom costello in d.c. for