Postal Service Has $15.9 B Loss, Almost Insolvent

Thursday, 15 Nov 2012 04:00 PM

By Stephen Feller

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The United States Postal Service may be on the verge of collapse as it reported a $15.9 billion loss Thursday and has now reached its borrowing limit from the Treasury.

The combination of pension payments and continued decreases in mail volume have contributed to the spiraling downward of one of America’s most storied and essential public agencies, reported the New York Times.

For the fiscal year that ended September 30, USPS reported an $11.1 billion payment to its health benefits fund for future retirees and roughly $5 billion in other losses related to business itself caused it to hit the borrowing limit.

Deliveries in the last year declined five percent, from 168.3 billion pieces of mail to 159.9, on revenue that also declined $67.5 billion to $65.2 billion.

“The Postal Service is facing a fiscal cliff of its own, and any unanticipated drop in mail volumes could send the agency over the edge,” said Art Sackler, coordinator for the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service. “If Congress fails to act, there could be postal slowdowns or shutdowns that would have catastrophic consequences for the eight million private-sector workers whose jobs depend on the mail.”

The Times reported that financial issues will not affect delivery of the mail or payments to employees and suppliers. Election-related mail services this summer and fall helped to give the agency a $500 million cushion, and the coming holiday season should help keep it afloat as well until Congress addresses legislation that has been pending for the last year.

The proposal that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has been lobbying Congress to pass would allow USPS to eliminate Saturday delivery, reduce payments for the future retiree health fund, and add services such as delivering wine and beer by mail.

“It’s critical that Congress do its part and pass comprehensive legislation before they adjourn this year to move the Postal Service further down the path toward financial health,” Donahoe said.

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