Postal Service narrows list of possible branch consolidations

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With a month before it is set to begin branch-consolidation proceedings, the US Postal Service has narrowed the number of offices it may close to 413.The potential closures is an effort to cut costs at a time when the impact of dwindling mail volumes is exacerbated by the recession.It predicted that this year's mail volume will be as many as 20 billion pieces smaller than last year's.


The USPS is focusing on combining or closing offices in urban and suburban areas “where consolidations might be feasible while maintaining customer access to postal services,” according to a statement. It's mulling the fate of 20 branches in Los Angeles, 16 in New York, 15 in Cleveland and 13 in Atlanta, according to the agency. No action will be taken prior to October 2, according to the USPS.


Greg Frey, PR representative for the USPS, said that the case-by-case process required to consolidate a branch, as well as the months-long review process, means there will not be mass closures this year.


“I'm certain that, basically, you are not looking at mass closures by the end of the calendar year 2009,” he said. “If there are some announcements on October 2, the earliest would be 60 days after that and that puts it in the holiday season – and it's pretty unlikely we will close many outlets during the holiday season.”


In May, the federal agency said it was considering closing more than 3,100 branches and stations nationwide. It focused its study to 677 facilities earlier this summer.


In the past five years, the USPS has reduced its employee headcount by nearly 41,000. Frey said that he does not expect large numbers of layoffs to occur because of this round of consolidations.

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