WASHINGTON (AP) - The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion a year.
In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.
The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points. Package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.
The agency in November reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments to avert bankruptcy.
The Postal Service is in the midst of a major restructuring. Since 2006, it has cut annual costs by about $15 billion and reduced the size of its career workforce by 193,000 or by 28 percent, officials say.
Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.
Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages - and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.
It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval. But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side.