Postal Service reports $1.5B quarterly loss

Blue post office mail boxes on the side of a road in a small town in Colorado(Getty Images/iStockphoto/KaraGrubis)

WASHINGTON — With more consumers paying bills online, and email now the overwhelmingly preferred means of correspondence, the U.S. Postal Service continues to see a decline in first-class mail demand.

The Postal Service posted a fiscal third quarter loss of $1.5 billion — though $651 million less than losses reported a year ago. First-class mail revenue fell by another $134 million, or 2.2 percent.

Americans’ passion for online shopping has become one of the Postal Service’s lifelines, with shipping and package revenue increasing by 10.2 percent in the third quarter, on volume growth of 102 million pieces.

The Postal Service continues to trim costs, with total operating expenses in its fiscal third quarter of $18.5 billion, a decline of $240 million. It posted a $2.74 billion loss in fiscal 2017.

The Postal Service continues to cite a federal mandate that it pre-fund employee retirement and health benefits funds for a good part of its financial woes, and repeatedly calls on Washington to fix what it sees as a flawed system.

“The root cause of our financial instability is a flawed business model that is imposed by law,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan. “We encourage Congress to engage in a broad public policy discussion and pass postal reform legislation.”

“We support legislation under consideration in the current Congress which would provide immediate flexibility to the organization, allow the Postal Service to invest in our future and continue to provide the prompt, reliable, efficient and universal service the public expects,” she said.

In January, the Postal Service increased the cost of first-class letters from 49 cents to 50 cents, and increased Priority Mail Express prices by an average 3.9 percent.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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