Nation

Postal slowdowns have businesses fearing the future

WASHINGTON — It used to be that a letter sent was a letter delivered.

Not so much anymore. Even before the Postal Service begins closing hundreds of processing centers to cut costs, several businesses say they are already beginning to see a decline in service.

Dozens of local newspapers say papers are being delivered late or not at all, causing them to lose advertisers and subscribers.

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‘‘The problems only seem to be getting worse,’’ said Max Heath, a consultant for Publishing Group of America, which publishes magazines distributed through small newspapers.

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A decline in mail volume, particularly first-class mail, which accounts for the bulk of revenue, has produced steady losses for the Postal Service — an average of $1 billion a month in the first half of the fiscal year — and forced it to propose closing about half its processing centers and cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

New York Times