The Decline of Snail Mail: Postal Service's Annual Loss Doubles

Lower revenue and higher interest costs helped boost the U.S. Postal Service's annual loss in fiscal 2010 to more than double that of 2009. The Postal Service said Friday that it widened its loss for the year, which ended Sept. 30, to $8.5 billion from a loss of $3.8 billion in the previous year. Excluding the effects of interest-rate changes, which apply to its workers' compensation debt, the Postal Service took a $6 billion loss on revenue that fell 1.5% to $67.1 billion.

The institution's cost-cutting efforts, which include cutting the equivalent of 105,000 full-time positions over the past two years, haven't been able to keep up with the revenue loss as mail volume has dropped approximately 20% in the past three years. First-class mail shipments fell 6.6% in the past year after declining 8.6% in fiscal 2009.

"We will continue our relentless efforts to innovate and improve efficiency," Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett said in a statement Friday. "However, the need for changes to legislation, regulations and labor contracts has never been more obvious."

In late September, an oversight board unanimously rejected the Postal Service's attempt to raise the price of a first-class stamp to 46 cents from 44 cents, saying the organization had failed to sufficiently quantify the effect of the recession on operations and how much mail shipments might decline if rates were increased. The Postal Service last raised the price of a first-class stamp, from 42 cents, in May 2009.

Without the option of raising stamp prices, the Postal Service has requested other allowances, such as changing the frequency of mail delivery, closing unprofitable post offices and restructuring a $5.5 billion obligation related to employee retirement benefits.