First-class mail delivery slows in first months of the year

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Those birthday cards, bills and other first-class stamped mail often are taking a little longer to get to their destination.

Newly-released figures from the U.S. Postal Service show drops in on-time delivery for first-class stamped mail for the first three months of this year, compared to the same time last year.

An independent organization that tests service performance for the Post Office found about 63 percent of first-class mail that would typically take three to five days — a letter sent from Washington to Boston, for example — arrived on time. That compares to about 84 percent of mail arriving on time the same period in 2014.

For two-day mail — a card sent from Washington to New York City — service was better, with 90 percent arriving on time, but that's down from 93 percent last year.

The Postal Service says horrible winter weather that grounded flights and disrupted service in many parts of the country was part of the problem.

Another reason for the lower performance scores, said the Postal Service, was operational changes it made in January amid long-time financial woes and years of declining mail volume. Among the changes: eliminating overnight delivery for local first-class letters that used to arrive the next day and consolidating dozens of mail processing facilities.

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, says the delays are avoidable. "We should be boosting service and returning to prompt mail delivery. Closing more postal sorting facilities will only make things worse."

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