May 13, 2013
By Fredric Rolando, President National Association of Letter Carriers
The Postal Service’s financial report—which included the first revenue increase in five years—reflects an improving financial picture as the economy gradually improves.
Operating revenue in the most recent fiscal quarter was $121 million higher than the same period a year ago, while expenses fell by $1.2 billion.
This positive trend undermines the doom-and-gloom scenarios postal critics cite—and it shows the folly of reducing services to Americans, as the postmaster general seeks to do.
As Chief Financial Officer Jim Corbett stated, increases of 2.4 percent increase in advertising revenue from mail and a striking 9.3 percent jump in revenue from package deliveries—an increase of $267 million—largely offset a 2.7 percent decline in first class mail revenue.
Friday’s May 10, 2013 report shows the absurdity of taking the radical step of degrading the postal network by eliminating Saturday delivery. This would cost the USPS its competitive advantage, drive customers away, reduce revenue and make the Postal Service less able to adapt to an evolving society.
The report also shows the urgency of fixing the congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits decades in advance. Pre-funding—which no other agency or company is required to do—accounts for 90 percent of this year’s red ink, according to the USPS report.
The sharp rise in Postal Service package deliveries, which reflects the opportunities offered by the Internet, outpaced the two major private competitors, the CFO reported.
This was accomplished with the smallest USPS career workforce since 1966, the USPS said, because of record worker efficiency.
The report shows the USPS moving sharply towards breaking even, despite a still struggling economy. The agency reported a $200 million operating loss in the first half of fiscal 2013; in the full fiscal year of 2011 it had a $5.1 billion operating loss, and $4.8 billion in fiscal 2012. Instead of the postmaster general’s “shrink to survive” strategy—which will only begin a death spiral for the USPS—what is needed is a dynamic business plan for the future to take advantage of the many opportunities for growth, including in the exploding package delivery market.