FOR ANYONE who still does not quite grasp the technologically obsolescent U.S. Postal Service’s calamitous financial situation, here are a few facts from Thursday’s Government Accountability Office report.
First-class mail, the source of half of USPS’s revenue, has declined from 104 billion pieces per year to 74 billion pieces over the last decade. Estimates are that volume will shrink by 34 billion more pieces by 2020. Meanwhile, the postal service calculates that almost half of its 461 mail-processing facilities are redundant. The USPS’s $25 billion in losses over the last five fiscal years have left it within $2 billion of exhausting its $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury, which is the only thing standing between the postal service and total collapse.
In February, USPS projected that annual losses would rise to $21 billion by 2016 and proposed a plan to cut costs by an offsetting amount. This would involve dramatic reductions in the USPS infrastructure and workforce. But there appears to be no alternative. “The Postmaster General has stated that maintaining a vast national postal infrastructure is no longer realistic,” the GAO notes.