- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The United States Postal Service posted its second-consecutive quarterly loss on Tuesday, reporting it had $1.6 billion more in spending obligations than revenue in the third quarter of fiscal year 2016, thanks in large part to requirements to pre-fund its workers’ retirement. The agency used the occasion to call for Congress to act on postal reform.

“Despite the encouraging numbers, net losses continue to mount. Our results in the quarter further underscore the need for legislative reform that provides the organization with greater financial stability,” Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said in a statement.

Federal law requires the USPS to pre-fund retiree benefits for its workforce, a sticking point for postal brass and postal labor-union leaders who attribute losses to the legal requirement.

“Today’s quarterly report puts the year-to-date operating profit of the Postal Service at $1.3 billion, demonstrating the overall strength of the postal turnaround,” cheered National Association of Letter Carriers president Frederic Rolando.

“The big picture is that USPS operations are $4.4 billion in the black since 2012. That’s an impressive performance for a government entity that gets no taxpayer money,” added the union president, who also called for legislative reforms to the pre-funding mandate as well as “allowing USPS to use its invaluable networks for some new products and services.”

“We incurred a net loss resulting, in part, from continued decreases in First-Class Mail volume and systemic financial imbalances associated with our retiree health benefit prefunding requirements,” complained Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Joseph Corbett.

First-class mail includes letters and postcards as well as bills or invoices sent through the post. Postal research has shown that even as more Americans are turning to paying bills online, they still prefer getting a hard copy in the post.

“More than 90% of Americans still prefer to receive paper bills, but a strong majority of them pay electronically,” DigitalTransactions.net reported in February 2015, citing “a survey sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General.” Indeed, “Even among younger, supposedly digitally savvy customers, an average of 89% of customers chose paper bills.”

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