A postal service that was once Canada’s biggest source of revenue, the US postal service is in the midst of a steep cutback as the country’s economy falters.
US postal services have suffered the worst hit in the post office’s 50-year history, and the USPS says its revenue has been halved since last year.
“It’s a really big problem, a really significant problem,” says Greg O’Connor, director of the American Postal Institute, which represents the US Post Office and other postal services.
“There’s not a lot of money coming in from Canada.
So we’ve got to do what we can to make sure we’re making it work.”
The US Postal Services in its annual fiscal year, which ends in September, was worth $11.7bn.
Last year, US Postmaster General Gregory Garrens announced he would slash $300m in funding for USPS.
But in the last three months of 2017, postal service revenue has fallen $5bn.
The USPS said in a statement that “our efforts to preserve and modernise our delivery systems are consistent with the objectives of USPS and our shareholders.”
In the US, USPS said it had $2.4bn in surplus cash reserves, and that it has cut delivery costs by more than half, reducing its delivery time by 90% and lowering the number of packages that go out every day.
But the cuts aren’t as dramatic as they were in Canada.
The USPS has cut $300 million from its revenue last year, a reduction of $1bn in 2017.
“The Canadian postal service will be cut as well,” O’Connor says.
“That’s where the difference is between Canada and the US.”
But not all the cuts are on the cutting edge.
According to US postal officials, USPS is not doing as well as it should.
In Canada, postal workers earn a median hourly wage of $15.75, and a full-time postal worker makes about $26,000 a year.
For comparison, US postal workers are about $10 an hour less.
However, the postal service has said that it will cut costs by $100m by 2019, with $80m to go to “improve service, speed delivery, and modernize its infrastructure”.
The cuts have led to anger among postal workers, who say the government has made some cuts in line with the wishes of postal unions.
What happens next?
Garrens has said he will meet with USPS representatives in the coming weeks to discuss the cuts.
O’Connors says the postal unions have told him they won’t be signing a new contract until there’s a “more robust plan” for delivering packages.
And while the cuts have been dramatic, there’s no sign of a wholesale exodus.
O’Connor says he has received emails from people who have been working in the US for decades and have “no regrets about their job”.
“They’re very optimistic,” he says.
There is one silver lining.
US Postal services have not lost much money in the past couple of years, thanks to higher prices for packages.
So if you’re buying a package, you’re more likely to get it.
And if you need to go abroad, the USPS will have more money to send you than Canada.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)