Myths/the Post Office is unprofitable

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Myth: The Post Office is losing money.

Reality

The "losses" reported by the USPS are entirely due to a unique and absurd retirement funding requirement – imposed by a lame-duck Republican Congress in 2006 – which requires that the USPS fund its retirement account for the next 75 years, a requirement not shared by any other government agency[1]. As many have pointed out, this means that they must have money set aside to fund the retirement pay for postal workers who haven't even been born yet, much less been employed by the USPS.

The required $5.5b annual payment to this account turned a $660 million profit in fiscal 2013[2] into a net $5b loss, despite revenue growth and record productivity[3] – enabling "small government" advocates in Congress and elsewhere to falsely claim that the USPS is losing billions of dollars while technically telling the truth.

The USPS has in fact been reliably making a profit in excess of $600m: "In the four fiscal years since 2007, despite the worst recession in 80 years, despite Internet diversion, revenues from postal operations exceeded costs by $611 million."[4]

Footnotes

  1. 2014-08-20 USPS is actually profitable by Jim Hightower
  2. 2013-08-11 Without Pre-Funding Obligations The USPS Would Profit How Much?
  3. 2013-11-15 Despite Revenue Growth and Record Productivity, Postal Service Loses $5 Billion in 2013 Fiscal Year
  4. 2011-08-11 Post office makes a profit Congress won’t let it keep: a comment on this post illustrates another popular myth, that the Post Office is publicly funded: "We should not be funding any retirement for letter carriers. They should have the same benefits as the rest of us – Social Security and whatever they choose to contribute to their own retirement. We can no longer afford to provide for retirement of employees, public or private. [...]"