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November 19, 2019 10:45 AM, EST

Postal Service Losses Up Even As Package Revenue Jumps 6.1%

USPS workerA USPS letter carrier in the East Atlanta post office. Net loss for fiscal year 2019 was $8.8 billion, and increase of $4.9 billion compared to last year. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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The U.S. Postal Service saw revenue jump for the 2019 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, thanks largely to an increase in package volume.

Operating revenue was $71.1 billion, an increase of 0.7%, or $514 million, compared with 2018’s revenues of $70.6 billion, according to a Nov. 14 news release. The higher revenue largely was driven by price increases and continued growth in the shipping and packages segments, in which revenue increased $1.3 billion, or 6.1% according to Postal Service officials. That more than offset revenue declines in first-class and marketing mail, a result of declining volumes, the Postal Service reported.

Net loss for the year was $8.8 billion, an increase of $4.9 billion compared with 2018. Approximately $3.4 billion of this increase in net loss was related to workers’ compensation expense, USPS officials said.

Total volume of mail and packages delivered during the year declined by 3.8 billion pieces or 2.6%, driven by first-class mail declines of 1.8 billion pieces, or 3.1%, and marketing mail declines of 1.6 billion pieces, or 2.1%, Postal Service officials said. Package volume grew to 16 million pieces, or 0.3%, continuing a multiyear trend of declining mail volumes and increasing package volumes. Revenue for packages was $22.8 billion, up 6.1% from $21.5 billion a year before.

Megan Brennan, postmaster general and CEO

Brennan

“We continue to adjust to declining mail volume and remain focused on leveraging our unique and unrivaled network to gain new customers and grow profitable revenue in the increasingly competitive package business,” said Megan Brennan, postmaster general and CEO. “However, revenue growth in our package business will never be enough to offset imbalances in the Postal Service’s business model, which must be addressed through legislative and regulatory reforms in order to secure a sustainable future.”

Operating expenses for the year were $79.9 billion, an increase of $5.4 billion, or 7.3%, compared with the prior year. The expenses were driven by an increase in workers compensation expense of $3.5 billion. Compensation and benefits expenses increased by $994 million due to contractual wage increases, and retirement benefits expenses increased by $320 million, the Postal Service said.

Transportation expenses increased by $323 million as the Postal Service continued to experience increases in fuel prices and highway contract rates.

The Postal Service said it reduced its debt level during 2019 by $2.2 billion, finishing the year with $11 billion in debt outstanding. The debt reduction allows for the Postal Service to continue to reduce interest costs.

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