WASHINGTON — The nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service on Thursday reported losses of $57 million per day in the last quarter and warned it will miss another payment due to the U.S. Treasury, just one week after its first-ever default on a payment for future retiree health benefits.
From April to June, losses totaled $5.2 billion, up $2.1 billion from the same period last year.
The mail agency said it is being hurt significantly by mounting expenses for future retiree health benefits. Those expenses, mandated by Congress in 2006, made up $3.1 billion of the post office's quarterly loss, while workers compensation tacked on another $1.1 billion in expenses. The agency's operating loss was $1 billion, mostly due to declines in first-class mail.
"We have simply reached the point that we must conserve cash," Thurgood Marshall Jr., chairman of the Postal Service's board of governors, said in explaining the payment defaults. He cautioned that the mail agency may have to delay other payments if necessary.
The Postal Service has been urging Congress to pass legislation that would allow it to eliminate Saturday mail delivery and reduce the annual health payment of more than $5 billion. The post office defaulted on that payment last week when the House failed to take action before heading home for a five-week break.