Postal Service Losing $42,335,766 Per Day

Jon Street | August 9, 2012 | 3:44pm EDT
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FILE - In this March 2, 2010 file photo, letter carrier Kevin Pownall delivers mail in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

( - The U.S. Postal Service has been losing an average of $42,335,766 per day in fiscal 2012.

On Thursday, the service reported a third quarter (April 1-June 30) net loss of $5.2 billion, bringing its fiscal year-to-date net loss to $11.6 billion.

There were 274 days in the first three quarters of fiscal 2012. Thus the Postal Service has lost, on average, $42,335,766 per day in this fiscal year.

However, those losses have not been evenly distributed over the period. In the most recent quarter, the Postal Service's losses dramatically increased.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2012 (Oct.-Dec.), the Postal Service lost $3.3 billion. In the second quarter (Jan.-March), it lost $2.2 billion.

During the third quarter alone, when the Postal Service lost a total of $5.2 billion, the service was losing money at a rate of $57,142,857 per days.

The Postal Service said that it had to use $3.1 billion in the third quarter to fulfill a legislative mandate for prefund retiree health benefits, significantly contributing to its losses.

Although the losses for its fiscal year-to-date mathematically total $10.7 billion, Chief Financial Officer Stephen Masse said the $11.6 billion currently owed to the federal government is being expensed at roughly one-fourth of that sum for every quarter in 2012, resulting in an extra $0.9 billion.

The USPS said its operating revenue of $15.6 billion decreased by $153 million--less than 1 percent--while operating expenses of $20.8 billion went up by $1.9 billion, for a 10.2 percent increase.

This increase was driven by the $3.1 billion mandated for prefunding of retiree health benefits.

Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe said that Postal Service was forced to default Aug. 1 on a $5.5 billion prefunding payment for retiree health benefits, because it didn’t have enough cash resources to make the payment. It faces the likelihood of missing another payment in September.

Donahoe said the postal service says it is taking steps to get back on track, but is still looking to Congress to pass legislation that would ease the pressure.

“We remain confident that Congress will do its part to help put the Postal Service on a path to financial stability,” Donahoe said Thursday. “We will continue to take actions under our control to improve operational efficiency and generate revenue by offering new products and services to meet our customers changing needs,” Donahoe said.

The postmaster general outlined four steps to that would improve the financial status of the postal service.

At the top of the list, Donahoe said, the postal service would like to resolve retiree health benefits and implement its own health-care plan to save money in the short-term and long-term.

Donahoe said because Congress mandated that the Postal Service prefund retirement health care benefits, USPS has overpaid more than $11 billion in federal employee retirement funds, all of which it is requesting to be returned from the Treasury.

The postmaster general further said moving from a six day operating schedule to a five day operating schedule would save $2.7 billion per year.

Finally, Donahoe said the government agency can do more to generate income from a products and pricing perspective.

USPS told that an increase in shipping and delivery revenues will result in shipping revenues surpassing those of standard mail revenues over the next two to three years as the economy continues to rebound. That trend, Donahoe said, can be attributed to the changing world of e-commerce.

The U.S. Postal Service is, by law, an "independent establishment" of the executive branch.

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