The Postal Service's net loss for the fiscal second quarter ended
March 31 surpassed the first quarter's loss of $354 million, but it
remained flat from the year-ago quarter. It was the 20th of the last
22 quarters that the agency has posted a loss, the USPS said.
The volume of first-class mail, the agency's most profitable
product, fell 4.1 percent in the second quarter as more Americans
chose to communicate and pay bills via the Internet.
"We're quite obviously in a deep financial hole," Joseph Corbett,
USPS chief financial officer and executive vice president, told
reporters in a briefing.
Liabilities totaling $64 billion exceeded current assets by $42
billion, adding to the agency's dire financial situation, the agency
said in a statement.
In the meantime, its shipping and packaging business remained a
bright spot, with volume increasing 7.3 percent as e-commerce grows
and more online shoppers need carriers to deliver their goods.
Still, the Postal Service keeps struggling under the weight of heavy
mandatory payments into its future retirees' health fund, which was
required by Congress in 2006.
The USPS has sought legislative relief to let it modernize its
business service offerings, restructure the future retiree
health-fund payments and shift to a five-day mail delivery service.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he was disappointed in
Congress' failure to act. He added that comprehensive legislation -
not a bill narrowly focused on health costs - was still urgently
The USPS had already factored in the expected loss in first-class
mail volume, estimated at 4 billion fewer pieces of mail for fiscal
year 2014. The agency lacks the money to upgrade its 23-year-old
vehicles and make other needed improvements.
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Congress has remained gridlocked on postal reforms, partly by
pressure from trade groups and unions to maintain the status quo, as
well as due to some lawmakers' reluctance to see postal services cut
back in their districts.
Lawmakers pushing postal reform legislation include Oklahoma
Republican Senator Tom Coburn, Delaware Democratic Senator Tom
Carper, and Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and
the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The U.S. Postal Service, which does not receive taxpayer funds, has
said it could require a massive bailout from the taxpayers in excess
of $50 billion by 2017 if Congress fails to act.
"The harsh reality is that it's likely we'll continue to see the
U.S. Postal Service suffer unsustainable losses that threaten its
long-term viability until Congress acts," said Carper, who is
chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee. "As I've said time and time again, Congress and the
administration need to come to agreement on comprehensive
legislation that reforms, right-sizes and modernizes this American
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna and Susan Heavey; Editing by Matthew
Lewis and Jan Paschal)
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