The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the U.S. Postal Service

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) called a hearing today to examine how the nation’s current financial crisis is hurting the U.S. Postal Service.

During the first 2009 hearing of his Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, Sen. Carper sought new ways keep America’s postal service profitable well into the future.

The senator stressed that the Postal Service has been hard hit not only by the recent economic downturn, but also by the greater use of e-mail transactions.

Mail volume declined by nine billion pieces last year, and future projections point to even lower mail volume. The Postal Service has indicated declines in mail volume will result in a $7 billion loss this fiscal year and another $1.5 billion loss in fiscal year 2010.

“I am deeply troubled that our economic problems are hitting the Postal Service so hard,” said Sen. Carper. “It is time to look at commonsense, fiscally responsible ways for the Postal Service to save money and continue its invaluable service to our nation, without requiring Congress to provide direct federal financial assistance.”

Recently, Sen. Carper, along with Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), requested that Postal Service lay out a plan to cut costs. Following up on that request, today’s subcommittee hearing examined both short- and long-term financial improvements to the Postal Service operation.

The hearing examined how Congress could temporary help the Postal Service until the economy recovers. An immediate proposal would change the way the Postal Service makes certain payments related to retiree health care costs, with suggested savings from $2.3 billion to $4.8 billion each year, from now to fiscal year 2016.

“I am encouraged that this proposed change in employee health care payments could help the Postal Service get through this economic crisis. But this is just a temporary fix, and I expect Postal Service leaders to continue work on a long-term plan for financial stability,” concluded Sen. Carper.