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The U.S. Postal Service is preparing to announce to cuts of up to $6.5 billion a year from its overwhelmed budget, including a reduction of the speed of first-class mail, making it impossible for normal mail to be delivered in one day. According to the Associated Press, the cuts are expected to include the closure of nearly half of the country's 500 mail processing centers, resulting in officially lowering the standards for first-class mail delivery to two-to-three days. Around 3,700 local post offices could also be shuttered, ending in layoffs that could reach over 100,000 employees. The new plan, to be unveiled on Monday, is seen by some as a last-ditch effort to save the company from bankruptcy.

The reduction in first-class delivery times means that everyday items like magazines, Netflix DVDs, mail-order drugs, birthday cards, and government checks could all be arriving later than expected (or needed.) Even newspapers, which are delivered by postal carriers in some communities would be made (further) irrelevant by the loss of next-day delivery. About 42 percent of all first-class is currently delivered the following day.

The loss of next-day service (which has been a staple of the USPS for 40 years) may save the company money, will only drive even more customers to competing services like UPS and FedEx, as overnight delivery (their specialty) becomes even more of a premium service than it already is. The price of a first-class stamp was already scheduled to go up — it will be 45 cents as of January 22 — and the new plan may call for even more increases in postage. No matter which services you currently prefer, it seems the days of fast and cheap mail delivery will soon be behind us.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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