In what could spell a significant blow to the New Orleans economy, the U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday it is considering consolidating its 880-employee downtown mail distribution center with one in Baton Rouge. Between now and early 2012, officials will conduct a feasilbity study to determine what efficiencies can be gained by merging the two facilities. The postal service is looking at the prospect of merging 250 of its nearly 500 processing centers nationwide. While layoffs are not currently on the table, the center's employees would likely be offered similar positions in Baton Rouge or jobs at nearby post offices. Those offices could be in Louisiana or in other states, said spokesman McKinney Boyd.