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WASHINGTON - The Postal Service announced Thursday that it would begin consolidating 48 mail processing centers beginning in July, the first phase of a cost-cutting plan that is intended to save nearly $1.2 billion a year as it tries to adjust to declining mail volume.

The agency said it would consolidate an additional 92 processing centers in February 2013, and 89 more in early 2014.

In total, the Postal Service said it would close about 250 processing centers, and it expects to save about $2.1 billion a year after the plan is fully implemented in 2014. About 5,000 workers would be immediately affected by the consolidations, the agency said, although it was unclear if they would be reassigned or given incentives to retire. About 13,000 employees would be affected when the first phase is fully implemented by February 2013.

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The service’s latest plan to reduce costs by closing mail-processing centers and reducing its staff comes as the agency continues to face financial losses. In the first two quarters of fiscal 2012 alone, it lost more than $6 billion.

“We simply do not have the mail volumes to justify the size,’’ Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said.