WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) – Snail mail has slowed to a crawl. According to data from the U.S. Postal Service, the on-time delivery rate for first-class mail in the first three months of 2021 was just 78%.

That’s compared to 92% from the same period last year, before the pandemic. However, it is even slightly lower than the on-time delivery rate leading up to the 2020 election, when COVID-19 was surging in the U.S. and the Postal Service was dealing with greater volume in the form of millions of mail-in ballots.

Experts encourage people to send essential mail, like rent checks, earlier than usual to ensure on-time delivery.

On Friday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he was optimistic that service would improve by the end of the year. However, his 10-year plan for the agency includes slowing down the standard for first-class mail delivery from three days to six for destinations in the continental U.S.

DeJoy’s management has put the Postal Service on better financial footing. The agency has always been self-funding, but has struggled financially since 2006 when Congress forced it to pre-fund retirement liabilities 75 years in advance. No other federal agency has to deal with such a requirement. DeJoy hopes to change that as part of his 10-year plan as well.