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On-time delivery plunges at U.S. Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service's delivery stumbles drew scrutiny last year when an influx of election mail and operational changes caused service to deteriorate. Yet while the crush of ballots has passed, those woes have only worsened: 1 in 5 pieces of mail across the U.S. was delivered late to households and businesses in the first three months of 2021, according to postal agency data.

Roughly 78% of first-class mail was delivered on time in the first quarter, down from more than 92% of first-class mail delivered on time in the year-ago period, postal service chief technology officer Scott Bombaugh said at a USPS Board of Governors meeting on Friday.

That performance decline is concerning, said Paul Steidler, a senior fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, and expert on the USPS. Slower mail delivery means individuals and businesses can face delays in both outgoing and incoming mail — a particular issue for people mailing rent checks, making or awaiting payments, and awaiting important documents to arrive in their post boxes.


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