Sunday August 02, 2020 |Notes

USPS delays are hurting small businesses

There are reports of delayed USPS deliveries in postal regions across the country. There's been a surge in usage of the postal service for deliveries as shopping has shifted further online. With sustained packages delivering rivaling that of the holiday shopping period, the service has been reluctant to staff accordingly.

At Vice, Aaron Gordon wrote about the USPS delays and looked at the reasons behind the delays, coming to the conclusion that the service is drastically underfunded and understaffed.

Between 2009 and 2018, USPS cut its workforce by 77,000 people, pays new hires less, and increasingly relies on “non-career employees” who get paid by the hour, have no set schedule, and have fewer benefits, according to the Government Accountability Office. These measures collectively saved the USPS about $2.5 billion a year between 2016 to 2018, less than half of what its annual health pre-pay requirements are under the 2006 law.

What is clear is that USPS is trying to do more with less. It is delivering somewhere between 60 and 80 percent more packages than it typically does this time of year and for a longer sustained period, in many cases without the staffing increases that typically accompany the similarly busy Christmas rush. The only way the USPS has been able to manage is to have the existing workforce work longer and pay them the accompanying overtime to do it.

USPS Priority Mail is the most economical, timely delivery service available for most small businesses that cannot afford to negotiate significant discounts with private carriers like Fedex and UPS. The USPS has been unfairly burdened with significant debt as a result of congressional acts from the 2008 financial crisis.

Regardless, USPS is meant to be a service provided to everyone. It's not meant to seek profit first. The USPS should be funded appropriately to eliminate delay and provide delivery reliable service at all times, especially as many become more reliant upon delivery in the pandemic-driven economy.

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