Post Office Reports Another Quarter Of Losses

The Postal Service announced Thursday that it lost more than $3 billion during the first three months of the year. Post office officials are pushing Congress to give it more authority to cut some of its burgeoning costs.

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The United States Postal Service is bleeding money at a remarkable pace. It said yesterday it lost $3.2 billion during the first three months of the year.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the post office is pushing Congress to give it more authority to cut costs.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: The Postal Service's big problem is that, as the volume of mail keeps declining, its costs keep going up. Mail volume decreased four percent last quarter from the same period a year ago. And in just a few months, it's due to make $11 billion in health benefits payments, which means it could run out of cash by fall and default on other payments.

The Postal Service faces lots of private competition, from the Internet to private shipping services. But it's also limited in its ability to cut costs and compete with those services by law, even though it receives no taxpayer funding. It's now seeking approval from Congress to cut Saturday delivery, as well as some of its health-benefit costs. But some of its proposed changes run into public opposition.

Earlier this week, the Postal Service bowed to public pressure, agreeing to keep rural post offices open, instead of shutting them down. It will shorten hours of operation instead.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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