The past couple months have been quite challenging for the United States Postal Service, which is apparent by the delays in mail delivery.
On January 2, 2021, my wife and I received a piece of mail from our insurance company that was mailed on December 1, 2020. It took just a little over one month to arrive in our mailbox. This has become more common for many people depending on the USPS.
The local small town post offices located in Southeast Minnesota are getting the mail delivered as fast as they can. The issues are not under the control of the local POs. It is the entire system that has become clogged with high volumes and fewer employees. It’s equivalent to hooking up a firehose to a garden hose and turning it on full blast. The system cannot keep up with flow.
When visiting www.usps.com, readers will notice “ALERT: USPS IS EXPERIENCING UNPRECEDENTED VOLUME INCREASES AND LIMITED EMPLOYEE AVAILABILITY DUE TO THE IMPACTS OF COVID-19. WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE” at the top of the homepage.
It’s a bad combination of many things.
The USPS has downsized by more than 24,000 employees in the past 10 years while also closing more than 280 sorting facilities. There used to be five sorting facilities in Minnesota, and now there is one.
Add in some COVID, and with either exposure to someone infected or employees who have contracted the virus, the USPS is just like any other business affected by the coronavirus. They’ve had staff out sick or in quarantine, leaving fewer employees to manage higher volumes of mail.
The USPS delays have also impacted newspapers. In all of Fillmore County, and portions of Houston and Mower counties, we deliver the newspapers directly to individual post office locations in our core market, so newspapers are distributed to those homes and businesses within 24 hours of rolling off of the press. There is no problem with our mail delivery in the immediate areas of Fillmore, Houston, and Mower counties. But, we do have subscribers living outside of our immediate distribution area who are at the mercy of the USPS system. Roughly 4.5% of the Fillmore County Journal circulation includes subscribers outside of the counties of Houston, Fillmore, and Mower. For those subscribers living in communities outside of those core market areas, newspapers are taking four to eight weeks for delivery. We receive phone calls on a daily basis.
After we give the newspapers to the USPS, it is out of our control. And, even the USPS doesn’t know where the newspapers are held up in their massive system. We’ve had subscribers receive no newspaper for several weeks, and finally receive three weeks worth of newspapers in one day. We send them out in the mail immediately after they are printed, so there is no hold-up on our end.
All we can do is ask our subscribers living in communities like La Crosse, Rochester, Waukon, St. Paul, Morristown, and beyond to please bear with us while we patiently wait for the USPS system to return to a sense of normalcy. I’m sure they are doing the best they can given the circumstances.