Postal Service Loses Nearly $2 Billion in Second Quarter

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier of 12 years, Jamesa Euler, turns down the flag on a mailbox while delivering mail in Atlanta. U.S. Postal Service letter carrier of 12 years, Jamesa Euler, turns down the flag on a mailbox while delivering mail in Atlanta. David Goldman/AP

The U.S. Postal Service lost an average of more than $21 million per day in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, with a total loss of $1.9 billion.

The loss was actually a 40 percent improvement over the same period last year, when USPS lost $3.2 billion. To date this fiscal year, the Postal Service has lost $3.1 billion, less than half of what it lost through the first half of 2012.

Excluding separation incentives, USPS actually broke even in operational costs in the latest quarter, which ended March 31. Prefunding for retirees’ health benefits and workers’ compensation accounted for most of the losses, according to the Postal Service.

While revenue from first-class mail -- USPS’ biggest money-maker -- declined 2.7 percent from last year, standard mail and shipping and package revenue were up 2.4 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

The Postal Service has made a concerted effort to grow its shipping business -- including exempting packages from its plan to end Saturday delivery -- and attributed the boost to “the growth of e-commerce and successful marketing campaigns.”

At a Board of Governors meeting Friday, Postal Service officials renewed calls for comprehensive reform legislation from Congress, though they were careful not to appear overly optimistic any such bill was forthcoming.

“The most important issue relates to time,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said, “and we’re running out of it.”

Absent legislation, the Postal Service will be forced to resort to “extreme actions,” Donahoe said, such as increasing prices.

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