© Reuters. A United States Postal Service (USPS) mail delivery truck is seen in Queens, New York, U.S., May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday reported a net loss of $6.5 billion for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, with revenue down 0.4 percent to $78.2 billion. dollars, with first-class mail falling to its lowest volume since 1968.
The Postal Service said its results were significantly affected by the impact of inflation on operating expenses. The agency has aggressively raised stamp prices and is in the midst of a 10-year restructuring plan announced in 2021 that aims to eliminate $160 billion in projected losses over the next decade.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the USPS is “addressing near-term financial challenges related to inflation as we make significant progress in our long-term cost control and revenue generation strategies “.
First-class mail volume fell 6.1% in 2023 to 46 million items and is down 53% since 2006, but revenue rose $515 million due to higher prices stamps.
The net loss was also impacted by the accounting for its underfunded pensions caused by actuarial revaluation and discount rate changes. The USPS, which has 640,000 employees, said it worked 28 million fewer work hours in fiscal year 2023 but reported a 2.6% increase in compensation and benefits costs employee benefits, to reach $52.8 billion.
Total operating expenses were $85.4 billion for the year, an increase of $5.8 billion, or 7.3%. The USPS said that, to preserve liquidity, it had not made all of the $5.1 billion in pension payments owed.
In April 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed legislation providing the USPS with approximately $50 billion in financial aid over a decade.
Last month, the USPS announced it was seeking approval to increase the price of first-class stamps from 66 cents to 68 cents effective January 21.
First-class mail, used by most people to send letters and pay bills, is the highest revenue-generating mail class, accounting for $24.5 billion, or 31%, of 2023 USPS revenue .