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Putting the Postal Service's Losses in Perspective

This week's announcement that the U.S. Postal service had a less than happy holiday season, ending 2011 in the red, didn't quite tell the whole story.

This week's announcement that the U.S. Postal service had a less than happy holiday season, ending 2011 in the red, didn't quite tell the whole story.

While USPS suffered $3.3 billion in net losses between October and December 2011, it also finished that period -- the first quarter of fiscal 2012 -- with a $200 million operating profit. In other words, the Postal Service made money delivering mail. A large share -- $1.4 $3.1 billion -- of the $3.3 billion in losses was due to payments made on the $5.5 billion USPS owes due to a 2006 mandate to prefund postal service retiree health benefits.

Phil Dine, a spokesman for the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the $3.3 billion figure got all the attention at the expense of a "whole other policy discussion" about USPS' health benefits mandate.

"Why is the Postal Service being prefunded more than any other organization in America and being brought to the financial brink because of that?" Dine said. "That's a different discussion and it's got nothing to do with the mail."
 

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