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“It balances reducing cost with the requirement to serve rural America.”

The agency had initially targeted rural post offices since they’re expensive to operate and generate little revenue. Some of the tiniest rural post offices earned an average of $15,000 annually, but cost $114,000 to function, the Postal Service said.

Besides reducing hours, the Postal Service said it would also explore merging offices which are near one another or contracting for shipping straight to homes and businesses. About 13,000 rural post offices could be impacted by the strategy. An extra 400 post offices which were scheduled to be closed are also given options to maintain services in one form or another.

The Postal Service’s plan, pending approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission, goes into effect after Labor Day and be finished by fall 2014.

This past year, the Postal Service cautioned Congress that unless legislation has been passed to overhaul its financing, it would need to begin far-reaching cuts in support and its workforce or face a potential default. The agency had proposed final 3,700 post offices and 250 email processing centers. It has also suggested eliminating Saturday delivery.

Wednesday’s announcement delayed a few of those plans. The agency still needs to finish Saturday delivery, and it also said it would announce the fate of countless processing facilities next week.

Mayor Donald Hobbs of Lohrville, Iowa, a city of 368 people, whose post office has been targeted at closure, praised the Postal Service’s new position.

“It feels like the Postal Service opened its ears to what we’ve been saying,” Mr. Hobbs said. ” There’s a need for post offices within our communities.”

Rural lawmakers, who represent states that could have been hard hit by the closings, also said they were generally delighted with the Postal Service’s latest programs.

Other legislators said the proposal didn’t go far enough.

Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware and a co-sponsor of a bill that would overhaul the Postal Service, stated he was glad the proposal gives little towns more of a state, but that it wasn’t far-reaching enough to fix the agency’s issues.

“Stopgap, piecemeal measures such as the proposal provided now only address a small portion of the issue and won’t retain the Postal Service from an impending collapse,” he said.