Postal Updates

USPS revenues decline during first half of 2017; package mail income up 11 percent

May 11, 2017, 8 AM
Thus far in 2017, United States Postal Service revenues total $36.5 billion, a decline from $37.1 billion in the first half of fiscal 2016. On the positive side, revenue from package mail deliveries showed a robust 11.1 percent gain in the first half of f

Washington Postal Scene — By Bill McAllister

By some measures, the United States Postal Service suffered a bad quarter ending March 31.

Controllable income of $12 million in the second quarter left the USPS with a $533 million profit in controllable income for the first half of the year, compared to $1.8 billion in the same period last year.

The Postal Service generated $576 million in controllable income through the first half of fiscal 2016.

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Controllable income is a term the Postal Service likes to use because it reflects charges that postal management can control.

Many of the numbers in the May 10 report showed declines for the first half of the 2017 fiscal year.

First-class, single-piece mail fell 6 percent, presorted bulk mail sagged 2.7 percent, and advertising, or marketing, mail dropped 1 percent.

Only packages showed an uptick, gaining 11.1 percent in the first half of fiscal 2017.

Overall, revenues dropped to $36.5 billion from $37.1 billion in the first half of fiscal 2016, a decline officials blamed on lower mail volumes and the end of an emergency postage rate increase.

When non-controllable costs are added, the Postal Service’s bottom line showed an $877 million profit for the first half of fiscal 2017, compared to a $1.7 billion loss a year ago.

Postal management complained in a news release that “even with continued achievements in improving operational efficiency and revenue, the Postal Service cannot overcome systemic financial imbalances caused by legal and other constraints.”

Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan again called for passage of legislation to give financial relief to the USPS and new rate change rules that would give it more freedom to raise stamp prices.

The Lexington Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, attacked Brennan’s strategy in a release issued a day before the new financial numbers were announced.

“Absent the right details, granting the Postal Service the increased flexibility for pricing that its leaders have sought from Congress could escalate these losses,” it said.