The U.S. Postal Service said this week it has restored its on-time mail delivery rates to its highest level in a year, finally matching its performance level from before Postmaster General Louis DeJoy took office.
USPS delivered nearly 88% of First-Class mail on time from April 1 to June 30, a 9% increase from the previous quarter. The mailing agency has not achieved that level of service since June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lower-than-normal employee availability rates and reforms implemented by DeJoy.
USPS boasted on Thursday that it achieved its best performance since the third quarter of fiscal 2020, which was the last quarter in which DeJoy—who took over in mid-June of that year—did not run the agency.
At the outset of the pandemic, mail delays ticked up slightly with on-time delivery falling from around 92% for First Class mail to around 90%. After DeJoy took office, however, and implemented reforms aimed at curbing late and extra mail transportation trips, delays spiked dramatically.
DeJoy and other postal leaders have conceded his approach had a drastic impact on service levels, but said it has since taken steps to rectify that fallout. Court orders have also blocked USPS from fully implementing the changes.
Still, on-time performance has remained at unusually low levels, including record levels of mail delays during the 2020 holiday season. USPS has pointed to high rates of employee absenteeism and unprecedented increases in package business that has disrupted the normal mail flow.
Postal workers have taken advantage of a recent law allowing all federal employees up to 15 weeks of paid leave to deal with issues related to the pandemic, exacerbating USPS workforce issues.
“The Postal Service continues its efforts to improve service performance and reliability with the goal of meeting or exceeding 95 percent on-time delivery across mail and shipping product classes as all elements of the 10-year Delivering for America plan are implemented. The Postal Service’s sustained performance improvements are due in part to a strategic diversion of mail and package volume from air to ground transportation, resulting in fewer delays from an overcapacity air network,” USPS said in a statement.