WASHINGTON — The financially troubled Postal Service on Friday posted a net loss of $1.9 billion in the second quarter, which ended March 31, compared with a $1.3 billion loss last quarter, when holiday shopping and heavy spending on political advertising during the 2012 election helped the agency.
Overall, the Postal Service reported operating revenues of $16.3 billion in the second quarter, an increase of $121 million, or 0.7 percent, which it attributed to strong growth in e-commerce deliveries and a small increase in standard mail, also known as junk mail. It is the first increase in revenue for the agency in five years.
But postal officials said the service's expenses of $18.2 billion, which included continuing debt, offset the modest increase in revenue. Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service's chief financial officer, said it had nearly $50 billion in debt obligations.
Officials said the Postal Service continues to lose $25 million dollars a day as it waits for Congress to pass legislation to overhaul the postal system.
There were a few bright spots in the gloomy financial report. Revenue from advertising mail increased $96 million, or 2.4 percent, in the second quarter compared with the same period a year earlier on a volume increase of 181 million pieces, or 1 percent.
Revenue from package deliveries continues to grow, up $267 million, or 9.3 percent, compared with the same period last year.
But the Postal Service said it continued to suffer from a 2006 congressional mandate that requires it to pay $5.5 billion annually into a health fund for its future retirees. The agency defaulted on two payments last year for the first time and said it would not be able to make payments into the fund this year because of its worsening finances. The Postal Service and postal worker unions said Congress needed to fix the requirement by lowering the amount of the payments and stretching out the length of time needed to pay it.
To offset losses, postal officials have asked Congress for the authority to enter into new lines of business, like beer and wine delivery, from which it is currently prohibited. The Senate passed a postal overhaul last year, but a House version never made it out of committee. Congress has not set a timetable for work on a new bill.