The U.S. Postal service announced Wednesday that it will stop Saturday mail delivery services beginning Aug. 1. USPS will, however, continue to deliver packages. Ed O’Keefe reports:

Unless forbidden to do so by Congress, which has moved in the past to prohibit five-day-a-week delivery, the agency for the first time will delivery mail only Monday through Friday. The move will save about $2 billion a year for the Postal Service, which has suffered tens of billions of dollars in losses in recent years with the advent of the Internet and e-commerce, officials said.

“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said at a news conference. “The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”

The postal service plans to continue Saturday delivery of packages, which remains a profitable and growing part of the delivery business. Post offices would remain open on Saturdays so that customers can drop off mail or packages, buy postage stamps or access their post office boxes, officials said. But hours likely would be reduced at thousands of smaller locations, they said.

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama does not have an opinion on the USPS announcement. He noted that the Postal Service is an independent agency and said the White House  learned of the news only on Tuesday.

While Americans will have to adjust to only receiving mail five days a week, Sarah Kliff reports that there’s still some good news:

In an attempt to cut $2 billion from its budget, the United States Postal Service will end Saturday delivery on Aug. 1. That means, for the first time ever, Americans will receive mail only five days a week (packages, however, are exempt from the change).

That’s the bad news. But there’s still some good news here: The USPS, by one metric, is still the very best internationally at its most crucial task: Delivering mail.

Researchers Alberto Chong, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer sent letters to 10 fake addresses in 159 countries. The whole idea was to test government efficiency, by seeing how long it took to return the letters to the senders.

Polls show that the general public supports the decision to halt Saturday deliveries, but has a different attitude when it comes to local branch changes. Josh Hicks reports:

Polling in recent years has consistently shown that a majority of Americans support halting Saturday mail delivery to help the U.S. Postal Service deal with its financial problems.

The Washington Post last conducted a poll on this issue in 2010, finding that 71 percent of Americans support such a move. Respondents from all political stripes favored it.

The Post’s Emi Kolawole on the Iranian president nearly being hit by a shoe and Monopoly’s new token. (The Washington Post)

However, 64 percent of Americans opposed closing post offices, including their local branch, the poll showed.

A more recent New York Times/CBS News poll from June 2012 found that 7 in 10 Americans say they would favor ending Saturday mail delivery to help solve the organization’s financial problems.


USPS through the years

Move expected to save $2 billion a year

Wonkblog: The best postal service