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USPS confirms mail processing center closures in Western Pa.

The U.S. Postal Service confirmed today that it would be consolidating several of its mail sorting and processing facilities in Western Pennsylvania to save money and cope with plummeting volumes of first-class mail.

Processing operations in Erie, Greensburg, Washington and New Castle will be transferred to the Pittsburgh facility in Manchester and those facilities will be shut down, according to an announcement made today by the USPS. Some mail that currently goes to Erie will be processed in Rochester, N.Y.

About 170 jobs will be affected by the moves, though spokesman Tad Kelley emphasized that doesn't mean 170 workers will be laid off. Some will be offered open positions at other postal facilities like the Pittsburgh facility on California Avenue, Kelley said.

No date has been set for the closing and consolidation. The USPS agreed last year to delay any actual moves until after May 15, 2012, to give Congress time to enact any legislation to reform the Postal Service and its funding.

Consolidating operations that sort mail by size, shape and ZIP code had been considered since last fall, when Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the agency may close up to half of its 500 sorting facilities. Nationally, the moves are expected to save about $2.1 billion in annual operating costs.

There has been a 25 percent drop in first-class mail volume since 2006, which a USPS study released this month attributes to Americans' increasing usage of the Internet for paying bills, filing tax returns, sending invitations and doing most of their correspondence that used to be sent via "snail mail."

Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, processing in Altoona will be moved to a facility in Johnstown; Reading, Lancaster and Williamsport processing operations will move to Harrisburg; Scranton's processing will move to the Lehigh Valley facility; and Southeastern processing operations will be consolidated in Philadelphia.

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