US Postal Service Warns How Coronavirus Pandemic Could Threaten Its Survival

The U.S. Postal Service began seeing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in late March, the agency said Friday in its second-quarter fiscal results. Although revenue climbed during the period, which covered January to the end of March, the Postal Service said this was mostly due to one-time mailings like the U.S. Census notifications. The report was published the day after the agency's board of governors revealed Lois DeJoy, a Republican donor, will become the new Postmaster General next month.

The USPS reported $17.8 billion in revenue, an increase of $348 million over the same period last year. However, the agency cautiously noted this was likely due to one-time mailings. First-Class Mail revenue climbed $89 million, or 1.4 percent, despite a 0.2 percent drop in volume. "This growth was due to one-time mailings associated with the 2020 U.S. Census, otherwise First-Class Mail revenue and volume would have each declined," the USPS noted. Meanwhile, the shipping and packaging revenues continued to climb by $386 million, or 7.1 percent. The USPS predicts this will only continue to climb as more customers order packages while staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were not immediately reflected in these numbers, Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan warned there will be "potentially dire consequences" for the rest of the year. The agency began to see the effects in late March. "At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the pandemic is starting to have a significant effect on our business with mail volumes plummeting as a result of the pandemic," Brennan noted.

"As Congress and the Administration take steps to support businesses and industries around the country, it is imperative that they also take action to shore up the finances of the Postal Service, and enable us to continue to fulfill our indispensable role during the pandemic, and to play an effective role in the nation’s economic recovery," Brennan explained. "We are grateful for the heroism and commitment of our 630,000 postal employees who continue to serve the American public during this pandemic, and we look forward to working with policymakers on ensuring the solvency of the Postal Service."

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The USPS and members of Congress hoped the CARES Act, signed into law in late March, would include some relief for the struggling agency, which relies on revenue from its services and not taxpayers to stay afloat. The USPS wanted $75 billion in funding, but instead, President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin only authorized a $10 billion loan. The loan still needs to be approved by the Treasury Department.

Brennan's term ends on June 15, when DeJoy takes over. DeJoy owns a real estate and consulting firm in North Carolina and was CEO of New Breed Logistics, which has been sold to XPO Logistics, notes the Washington Post. He is a longtime Trump and Republican donor, hosting a Trump fundraiser at his home in 2017 where tickets cost up to $15,000 per couple. DeJoy's wife, Aldona Wos, is a former ambassador to Estonia and was recently nominated to be the new ambassador to Canada.