* Total mail volume down 1.7 pct, First-Class down 5.8 pct
* Loss excludes $5.5 bln payment delayed by Congress
* Officials warn agency could run out of money next year
WASHINGTON, Nov 15 The U.S. Postal Service,
recording a net loss of $5.1 billion for its 2011 year, warned
on Tuesday that it could run out of cash by the end of fiscal
2012 if Congress did not offer relief.
The rise of e-mail and online bill payments combined with
the recession drove total mail volume down 3 billion pieces, or
1.7 percent, from 2010, the agency said in a statement.
Operating revenue for the 2011 fiscal year ended September
30 was $65.7 billion, down 2.1 percent from 2010. A key reason
for the decline is that revenue from First Class Mail, the
Postal Service's most profitable product, fell 5.8 percent,
overwhelming gains in shipping services and Standard Mail.
Officials said during a Postal Service Board of Governors
meeting on Tuesday that the agency could run out of cash by the
end of fiscal year 2012.
"To return to profitability, we must reduce our annual
costs by $20 billion by the end of 2015," Postmaster General
Patrick Donahoe said in a statement.
"We continue to take aggressive cost-cutting actions in
areas under our control and urgently need Congress to do its
part to get us the rest of the way there," Donahoe said.
The agency's total expenses for 2011 were $70.6 billion,
much lower than $75.4 billion in 2010.
The agency is reviewing 3,700 post offices and hundreds of
processing facilities for possible closure and pausing biweekly
payments into a federal retirement program, and it announced a
one-cent boost in stamp prices starting in 2012.
Officials have asked lawmakers to let it end Saturday mail
delivery, spin off its retirement and health programs, and
renegotiate union contracts.
But the agency says it has limited ability to restructure
and may need to cut more than 220,000 more workers by 2015,
many through layoffs.
The agency's loss reported on Tuesday did not include a
$5.5 billion payment to prefund retiree health benefits, which
was extended by Congress to Nov. 18 to help conserve cash.
Donahoe has said the agency will default on the payment if
it is not extended again. A stopgap bill proposed this week to
fund the federal government for another month would give the
agency until mid-December to make the payment, a congressional
staffer said on Tuesday.