Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do You Have Mail?

Would anyone have thought that there would be one day where no one would send and receive letters, bills, or cards from other people? That day may be coming up for the United States Postal Service. The unfortunate decline of the Postal Service is the result of the decline of mail that is caused by the uproar of new and improved technology, but, with strong dedication and work, cuts need to be placed as well as additions to the legendary service to keep it afloat.

The Problem of the Postal Service Decline

The decline of the postal system is resulting in a billion dollar deficit. The Postal Service has been losing money for several years, but it received its biggest deficit last year. In 2010, the USPS recorded an $8.5 billion deficit (Beato).  With such an enormous loss, there is not any doubt that changes need to be made. If the decline continues for the United States Postal Service, no one will even know where the service will be in a decade. In fact, the postal service may lose $238 billion over the next 10 years ("Pushing the Envelope"). With the future not looking bright, it will need to find a way to change soon! With the innovation of technology, a once thriving business is left to suffer from raging deficits.

Another problem that faces the Postal Service is the loss of jobs. No one can deny that the USPS is losing money. When a business loses money, it has to make up for it. Sadly, businesses may have to make up for that by leaving people to defend for themselves. With the Postal Service losing billions, it caused it to announce that 220,000 positions would be eliminated by 2015, which is 30% of the current postal service staff (Kalafatis). People hear of businesses laying off hundreds of workers, maybe even thousands, but never hundreds of thousands. While 2015 may seem far away, it is only 4 years away. To clarify, they will be eliminating 55,000 jobs a year. Since they cannot just exhume money from the ground, they will have to cut almost 1/3 of its workforce.

The United States Postal Service is suffering another blow and that is its mail volume. While the Postal Service received its biggest year in recorded history in 2006, mail volume has been dropping since then. The USPS carried 170 billion pieces of mail in 2009, which marked the straight year of decline in mail volume since 2006 when it had an all-time high of 213 billion pieces (Stone). It shows that the country found another way to send mail to others. With the shortage of mail, along with them racking up their deficit, and its employee cuts, postal executives have decided to trim the fat from the number of stores they have. The U.S. Postal Service plans to close as many as 2,000 of their 32,000 outlets this year (Beato). The USPS is trying to find anything to cut while still maintaining to deliver mail to the American people. It is not closing stores for no reason, but it is closing them because of the reduction of mail volume.

The Causes of the Postal Service Decline

The USPS is suffering from many problems that trickle down to the very way it runs business, but one cause of that is through the decline of first-class mail and an increase in wages and benefits. Not only is the post office losing money each year, but it is also suffering from other declines. Financial problems rose mostly from the declines in first-class mail volume and increases in wages and benefits (Kalafatus). The Postal Service is seeing their first-class mail decline since 2007. Even though it is only four years of straight decline, it is losing an excessive amount of mail each year, no, month. From April to June of this year, the post office handled 39.8 billion pieces of mail; however, that is 1.1 billion pieces fewer than the same time one year ago (Eversley). This era is called the internet age and the numbers explain why. The numbers have been falling like water from Niagara Falls, and we know that water that falls from there does not go back to the top.

The United States Postal Service is in a tight situation that can be blamed directly through technology. One invention that took the stamp away from letters is the invention of e-mail! Even delivering mail up to four times a day could not stop what would spell catastrophe for the USPS: e-mail, which is faster, easier and free (Romero). No one has to buy a stamp to send e-mails to each other. While the thought of paying for internet access comes to mind, it really is not a big problem. 4/5 households with internet access pay bills online (Romero). People are seeing that paying their bills online is much hectic as the American people can click instead of putting it in an envelope and hit send instead of adhering a $.44 stamp to the letter. Even business owners are not helping a national business called the USPS. The owner of Sellers Photo now pays bills online and receives financial statements electronically while cutting down on mailing clients CDs as he sends those images over the internet (Jesdanun). Entrepreneurs may like to help the postal system, but they know the quickest way to get to their customers and that is through the World Wide Web. The growing technology is directly affecting and hurting the postal service’s main job.

Lastly, the post office is in the fast track of declining money each day, month, and year because of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. While the postal service is part of the federal government, it souly relies on themselves. The USPS is only funded by its revenue as it does not receive taxpaper money (“Pushing the Envelope”). Some ponder on the thought of how USPS can loose money each year, but people do not know that they run entirely on their revenue. Think of the post office as a retail business because retail businesses do not get help from the government as they are in the red or black from its revenue. While the United States Postal Service is receiving its money from its customers, it truly does not cover all of its costs. The Postal Service’s biggest fiscal crises is from the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires to prefund its retiree Health Benfits Fund at the rate of around $5.6 billion a year till 2016 (Beato). Stated earlier, the 2010 deficit was $8.5 billion. If the USPS abolish this expensive act sometime this year or the next, the post office will save billions and billions of dollars. While it is still in the red, it will not have to slash as many expenses. The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act quite possibly be the biggest expense for the post office.

The Solutions of the Postal Service Decline

The Unitd States Postal Service needs an enormous amount of help in order to eliminte its deficit to become a profitable service again; therefore, one suggestion was brought up to cut delivery on Saturdays or create postal “holidays”. People have been talking about cancelling Saturday delivery for a couple years, but it looks like it could be sooner than later. The new delivery schedule would not be a problem for most as people would have to get use to paying their bills and sending cards a day earlier (“Pushing the Envelope”). Sending mail a day earlier might not be a problem for most, but if it is, people can also use private carriers. The problem is there are people who rely on Saturday mail. Some argue that weekend work stoppage will delay deliveries for medications and social security checks while others do not have internet to pay their bills online (“Pushing the Envelope”). While eliminating Saturday mail is a controversail situation, there is another way to save money. The post office will take days off, but selected ones. Instead of cutting Saturday service, create postal “holidays” on the slowest delivery days each year (“Pushing the Envelope”). Just like any other business, the USPS has its slow and busy days. In order to save money, they can create days where they will not have service at all as there is no need to even send mail out on those particular days. While it is cutting Saturday or creating days off, they will have to trim the number of days they serve the public.

Whether the U.S. mailing service eliminates days from their service or not, it will still be losing money annuanly, so, to change that, it needs to exclude their old, dated technological ways. To actually turn out a profit, they can try to reinvent themselves in stores nationwide. Postmaster General John Potter proposed closing some post offices and replacing them with automated kioks and postal windows in stores (“Pushing the Envelope”). The USPS cannot survive with its own stores which is the reason why it continues to close stores around the United States. Department stores have grown into multi-million dollar businesses throughout the decade, so if the post office can have a special concord them, it would help out incredibly. Even if the proposed plan does not work, it will help out for some time. Postal agencies can benefit for several more years by cutting costs and adding automated kioks (Jesdanun). The plan will help out for a period of time, but if it does not, it will give the USPS more time to cut costs. The postal service needs to think of innovative ways in this technology era.

In addition, the United States Post Office can omit its old ways by converting to new, higher-value products to save money. The postal service has been focused on the number of mail they get, but they need to relinquish that idea. Convert the model from volume of mail to new, higher-value products that people are demanding (Goldway). Obvisiouly, the post office is not going to see any spike of mail volume in the future; therefore, they need to change their focus topic to meet the demands of its customers. Also, the USPS needs to convert to today’s environmental and technology plans. Convert the vehicles to run electricity to save over $400 million a year as well as being independent on foreign oil (Goldway). The gas prices are always fluctuating and with thousands and thousands of trucks, it could run up a hefty bill, but switching what its trucks run on will not only save them money, but it will also help the environment. The postal service needs to think of new ways to run its business in today’s age as every small detail and expense counts.

Even though the United States Postal Service continues to see its mail volume drop, there are cases where places and businesses are helping them out. To people’s dismay, some of the top movies in today’s era are supporing the USPS. The Postal Service still has one big booster: Hollywood, as movies are still trafficking in old-fashioned, handwritten letters (Setoodeh). Movies are bringing in millions of dollars, and that means millions of people are watching, so the Postal Service is getting free advertising to all of those movie watchers. Lastly, some people think of the internet of ruining the Postal Service; meanwhile, it also has an upside as it has created new ways of mailing. The internet also has created new mailing opportunies from e-commerce sales, digital photo printing and DVD rentals (Jesdanun). For example, a company growing every year, Netflix Inc., already sent out over a billion DVD rentals to their tens of millions of subscribers as they receive their DVDs directly through the United States Post Service. The post office records a decline of billions pieces of mail each time we hear their yearly report, but maybe the most unlikely helper is helping the post office: the internet! Nothing is entirely independent from the U.S. mailing service.

The United States Postal Service is losing billions which will stand a problem for the Postal Service jobs as well as their stores and it is all caused by the decline of mail, raise in wages, the innovation of technology, and the 2006 Accountability and Enhancement Act, but it can still survive through huge and small solutions to cut the expenses from cancelling days to converting to new, innovative, and higher-value products. The USPS could be slowly coming to an end. If it comes to an end, no one will feel the satisfaction of getting and opening a letter like it was a Christmas present. No one would ever think that they did not need a mail box in the front of their house!

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