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The Postal Service announced Wednesday that as of August, it will be ending Saturday delivery of first class mail but continuing delivering packages on Saturdays. The justification for this split decision is that while email and online bill-paying have reduced the volume of mail in little envelopes, online ordering of goods has increased package delivery by 14 percent since 2010.

There are questions associated with the plan. The New York Times' Ron Nixon rather dryly notes:

The agency has long sought Congressional approval to end mail delivery on Saturdays. But Congress, which continues to work on legislation to reform the agency, has resisted. It is unclear how the agency will be able to end the six-day delivery of mail without Congressional approval.
So we'll see how that goes. But what should be one of the biggest questions is not, as yet, being included in most of the coverage: What about the jobs?
[Postmaster General Patrick Donahue]  said the plan would allow for elimination of 22,500 jobs. Donahue said he hoped the job losses could be covered by attrition, buyouts and cutting back on overtime.
Things would obviously be much worse if we were looking at large-scale layoffs thanks to this plan, directly adding people to the unemployment rolls and to the job search. But make no mistake, the elimination of 22,500 jobs does still have an effect on the economy. You have only to look at month after month of government job creation reports, in which the private sector creates jobs while the public sector cuts them, to realize that government job losses are holding back the American economy's recovery from recession in a big way. And the Postal Service is a major employer all across the country.

The Postal Service does have problems—ones created, in large part, by Congress. In today's austerity agenda world, the solutions being proposed by people in power are overwhelmingly cuts. But never forget that another answer to new communications technologies and shifting uses of the Postal Service's existing services would be to add services, not just cut them. Of course, Congress has prevented the Postal Service from expanding its offerings in all sorts of ways that might help it financially and make it more relevant in more people's lives. So while Congress will doubtless be considering whether to allow the agency to reduce Saturday deliveries, what it should really be considering is getting out of the way of post offices offering things like fax and printing services, notary publics, and hunting and fishing licenses. You know, give people more stuff they need while preserving or creating jobs. Crazy thought, right?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 08:16 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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