With the average weight of periodicals down 10.4 percent year-over-year because of fewer ad pages, the United States Postal Service reported a $1.9 billion loss for the March quarter. It will raise stamp prices (by 2 cents for a first class letter) on Monday in an attempt to bring in more cash.
A year ago in the second quarter USPS lost $707 million.
USPS reported the biggest fall in the volume of mail it handles since 1971. That fall, and other effects of the ongoing recession, mean the agency might wind up short some $1.5 billion by the end of this fiscal year.
During the quarter, the service handled 43.8 billion bits of mail, down by 7.5 billion items from the same quarter a year ago.
Revenue fell to $16.9 billion, down from $18.9 billion in the March quarter of 2008.
Since it was reorganized in 1971, the postal service has accumulated a deficit of almost $7 billion. At the end of its most recent fiscal year in September, that total deficit was only $4.7 billion.
As Associate Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward said in a post two years ago, "Reason has been predicting the imminent demise of the post office since at least the '80s, so I suppose we'd better not get too cocky just yet."
Yesterday, The Simpson's 20th anniversary was honored with a stamp collection. Maybe when the post office puts out a Lysander Spooner postage stamp, we can finally start celebrating.