USPS carried 5.2% less mail than in 2022

Apr 1, 2023

The U.S. Postal Service continues to post major financial losses, even as new plans crafted under the Delivering for America strategy begin to kick in. For the year beginning Oct. 1, USPS showed an operating loss of $2.2 billion. That was nearly $.6 billion over the money-losing performance of 2022 and $1.2 billion more than it had planned.

The continued seepage of mail from the system contributed to the losses. USPS carried 5.2% less mail than in 2022. It also had nearly 9,000 more career employees. The non-career employee ranks — the workers engaged without full benefits — shrank by about 30,000 people. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been critical of prior postal administrations’ plans to use more casual labor, saying the turnover in the non-career ranks is too high. But shifting employees into the career track increases benefit costs.

Many key provisions of Delivering for America were in early implementation stages in the prior fiscal year and have barely begun in the 2023 fiscal year. For example, the elimination of back-office carrier sorting stations — designed to be replaced by central carrier sorting facilities — was still in testing stages in 2022. A dozen or more new facilities are scheduled to come online in 2023. But the beta test of Sorting and Delivery Centers in Athens, Georgia, might have caused more overtime cost for letter carriers. NNA members reported that carriers in the Athens area seemed to be delivering well into evening hours. In January 2023, a relatively low mail volume period, city carrier work hours across the country exceeded projections by more than a thousand hours.

“It is too early to tell whether Delivering for America will produce the sustainability that postal management has promised,” NNA Postal Chair Matthew Paxton, publisher of The News-Gazette in Lexington, Virginia, said. “We cannot fully tell how the package profits are playing out, given that we are not legally entitled to see many of the private contracts USPS is now allowed to create with package companies. But the competitive products volume — much of which seems to be packages — was about 5% lower in January than a year ago. Certainly, mail is falling off as the industry copes with twice-a-year postage increases. Overall, the outlook is not encouraging.”

Editor's note: These numbers refer to fiscal year to date for USPS, which would be October-January compared to same period last year. For USPS, the FY begins in January, as does the rest of federal government.