The Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday delivery is bad news for North Dakota, on a variety of fronts.
We understand that the Postal Service cannot continue its current method of operations; the agency lost $15.9 billion in the past budget year alone. But while the plan will save an estimated $2 billion, North Dakotans, especially those in rural areas, will be among those to suffer the consequences.
At a time when populations of small towns across the western half of the state are growing, thanks to the booming oil industry, reducing delivery of everything except packages to five days a week will certainly be an inconvenience to many, and a downright detriment to business for others.
Newspapers rely on the Postal Service to deliver our product to thousands of customers every day. If the change happens in?August as planned, mail customers will get Saturday and Sunday's editions of the newspaper on Monday, hopefully. We hope the Postal Service has considered what the backlog of mail will mean to its employees who have to deliver essentially two days of mail on Monday. The North Dakota Newspaper Association is on record as opposing the Postal Service's decision, as are many members of that association, including us.
Certainly there are countless other businesses who also rely on Saturday mail delivery, and its elimination will not be good for business.
We know that times have changed, and the Postal Service is delivering far fewer letters than it used to, thanks to electronic formats. But the agency's major problem is a law requiring it to pay $5.5 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does. But Congress has been unwilling to alter that requirement, which has led to drastic changes in the service's operations.
We'd like to think Congress and the Postal Service could reach some sort of agreement to restructure the retiree payment, but we're not optimistic. We see major adjustments ahead for businesses, including newspapers, if Saturday delivery is eliminated.