The US Postal Service filed its February Financial results with the Postal Regulatory Commission on Monday. Despite the continuing erosion of mail volumes, the USPS continues to operate at close to break even- just like it’s supposed to. Of course the bottom line on the USPS report doesn’t reflect that, because the agency has to book the “pre-funding” charges imposed by Congress in the 2006 PAEA law- charges that the USPS has no way of paying- having already socked away $44 billion in past profits in Congress’s “trust fund”. (Kind of jarring to see the words “trust” and “Congress” in the same sentence, isn’t it?)
Even looking beyond the politicians’ accounting gimmicks, however, the outlook is far from rosy. The USPS saw continuing declines in all classes of mail except for shipping services. First class mail for February was down 3.2% from the prior year, and 4.6% for the year to date. Standard mail declined 2.7% for the month, bringing the year to date drop to 5.6%. Shipping services February volume was almost double what it was a year ago, and is up 48% year to date. While that’s good news, the shipping segment is still just 17% of the agency’s total revenue, so the extra income doesn’t quite make up for the decline in mailing services revenue.
Another cause for concern is the fact that the USPS continues to have a problem matching workhours to volume: while total mail volume dropped by 1.8% in February, workhours actually increased by 1.3%. On the plus side, revenue for the month of February was up from the prior year by 2.9%, thanks to the January 22 rate increase, and the fact that this February had an additional business day due to leap year.