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Postal Service affected by economy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AREA -- One area of economics that most people would never think would be affected by the economy is the U.S. Postal Service.

According to Koshkonong Postmaster Donna Steed, the Postal Service ended the 2008 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2007-Sept. 30, 2008) with a net loss of $2.8 billion.

"A postal news report said this was due to a national economic slowdown that lowered mail volume. This loss happened despite more than $2 billion in cost-cutting measures that included the use of 50 million fewer work hours compared to the previous year," she said.

Mail volume across the United States in 2008 totaled 202.7 billion pieces, a decline of 9.5 billion pieces, or 4.5 percent compared to the previous year.

"Declining mail volume was a symptom of the worsening national economy, especially related to the financial and housing industries and to trends toward the use of electronic mail," she said.

The postal report said the total revenue for the postal service in 2008 was $75 billion, unchanged from last year. Expenses totaled $77.8 billion. Expenses were up less than one percent over last year.

"Cost reductions offset nearly all of the impact from rising inflation, of which the major contributors were a $562 million increase in cost of living adjustments paid to some employees and $525 million in additional fuel costs," the report said.

"Postmaster General John Potter recently told the Postal Board of Governors that he expects the new fiscal year to be another difficult one for the Postal Service and the entire mailing industry, as economic factors will continue to reduce mail volume and increase expenses. The combination of excellent services and affordable process makes postal products a great value," Steed said.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, Steed said on-time mail delivery performance for overnight First-Class mail service remained at 97 percent for the second consecutive quarter, one point above the same period last year. "Two-day service was 94 percent on-time and three-day service was 93 percent on-time, unchanged from the fourth quarter of the previous year," the postmaster said.

"With the beginning of a new fiscal year, the Postal Service has implemented new standards and has expanded the geography and classes of mail for which service is measured in 2009. Our first reporting of the new service standards will be early next year following the conclusion of the first quarter of 2009," Steed said.

"The Postal Service is an independent federal agency. It is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 146 million homes and businesses, six days a week. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage products and services, not tax dollars, to pay for operating expenses. The Postal Service has an annual revenue of $75 billion and delivers half the world's mail. So many people think we are tax-based. No taxes keep us afloat," Steed said.

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