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Postal Service reports loss of $1.9 billion in 2Q

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By The Washington Post
Saturday, May 11, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Increased revenue and savings from efficiency efforts were not enough to prevent the Postal Service from losing $1.9 billion in its fiscal second quarter, postal officials said on Friday.

The earnings report, which follows a $1.3 billion first-quarter loss, spurred officials to again call on Congress to enact Postal Service-proposed changes to help stabilize the agency. Officials have urged changes to employee health insurance, retirement and mail delivery schedules.

The Postal Service's second-quarter revenue from package delivery rose by $267 million, or 9.3 percent, compared with the prior year, while revenue from advertising mail was up $96 million, or 2.4 percent. However, revenue from first-class mail, the Postal Service's most profitable category, decreased $198 million, or 2.7 percent. Total mail volume fell to 38.8 billion pieces from 39.4 billion pieces.

The second-quarter loss was less than the $3.2 billion decline for the same period last year, and officials credited their cost-cutting steps. The agency is getting results from closing processing facilities, reducing retail operating hours and downsizing its workforce through retirement incentives, officials said. The number of career employees decreased by about 25,000 in the second quarter and by 46,000 in the past year, bringing the number to just below 500,000, the smallest since 1966.

“Everything that we can do, we have and will continue to do. ... We need action on the legislation,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a conference call with reporters.

He pointed to a requirement that the agency pre-fund health insurance costs for its retirees, calling its removal the “single biggest change that would have the least negative impact.”

Key House and Senate committees have held hearings in recent months on the Postal Service's financial situation, with leaders expressing hope for enacting legislation this year.

The Postal Service has pushed for ending Saturday mail delivery except for packages. But the issue has met resistance in Congress. Last year, the Senate approved legislation that would have delayed five-day mail delivery for two years while trying other cost-saving tactics. A House bill that would have ended Saturday delivery outright never reached a floor vote.

The Postal Service announced this year that it would go ahead with its five-day delivery plan without congressional approval but backtracked last month after its governing board said that language in a budget law requires six-day delivery.

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