The Sad Little Bright Spot in the United States Postal Service’s $5 Billion Loss

Deep in the red, the mail service is going rogue.

U.S. Postal Service employee Arturo Lugo delivers an Express Mail package during his morning route on February 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Nov. 15, 2013, 5:52 a.m.

The rev­en­ue num­bers are in for the United States Postal Ser­vice, and they are quite bleak. Over the past 12 months, the USPS has lost $5 bil­lion. Amaz­ingly, though, that num­ber is far bet­ter than last year.

The USPS lost $15.9 bil­lion in fisc­al 2012, chiefly due to $11.1 bil­lion in pay­ments for re­tir­ee health be­ne­fits. Be­cause of those pay­ments though, that year was something of an out­lier, with $5.1 bil­lion in losses in 2011 and $8.5 bil­lion in 2010.

If this wasn’t already in­cred­ibly ob­vi­ous, the way mail gets de­livered in the United States is in need of a ser­i­ous shake-up. For years, as NJ‘s Mar­ina Koren wrote earli­er this week, the USPS has pleaded with Con­gress to act to help its budget by end­ing Sat­urday de­liv­ery, de­creas­ing re­tir­ee be­ne­fits, rais­ing the price of post­age, or tak­ing some oth­er ac­tions.

There isn’t much sign of that hap­pen­ing though, on ac­count of this Con­gress still be­ing this Con­gress — al­though today’s loss num­bers could help. In the mean­time, the USPS is go­ing rogue. Earli­er this week, it an­nounced it had turned to Amazon for a deal to ex­pand the com­pany’s Sunday pack­age de­liv­ery.

The terms of that deal haven’t been dis­closed. But there is a bright spot for the USPS in Fri­day’s re­port that shows why the deal could work. While mail volume has been de­clin­ing for years, rev­en­ue from pack­age de­liv­ery has been on the rise. In the past year, rev­en­ue rose 8 per­cent. Com­pare that with what’s happened to the USPS’ pre­vi­ous money-maker, first-class mail de­liv­ery. In 2007, that ser­vice ad­ded up to 92 bil­lion pieces. In 2012, it was 69 bil­lion. Dur­ing that same peri­od, pack­age volume in­creased from 3.3 bil­lion to 3.5 bil­lion.

Things are pretty dire for the USPS right now, but mov­ing to a more pack­age-cent­ric sys­tem, with help from private com­pan­ies, could be a way for­ward.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
21 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
12 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
×