The US Postal Service is warning that the coronavirus pandemic began to harm business in late March which has continued to decline, a trend that threatens its survival.
“It is estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will substantially increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss over the next eighteen months, threatening the Postal Service’s ability to operate,” it wrote in a press release Friday.
The financial struggles of the USPS are not new, but the global pandemic has further strained the mail service. More than 600,000 mail carriers and postal workers have continued working through the pandemic, delivering goods to every corner of the country.
Its second quarter numbers are artificially elevated by mailings tied to the US Census.
“Compared to the same quarter last year, First-Class Mail revenue increased by $89 million, or 1.4%, despite a volume decline of 29 million pieces, or 0.2%. 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 postal service said.
The Postmaster General is calling on Congress and the Trump administration to help shore up its finances.
“We anticipate that our business will suffer potentially dire consequences for the remainder of the year,” Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan said in Friday’s press release. “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 had told Congress last month that the agency will “run out of cash” by the end of September if lawmakers don’t step in with financial assistance.
USPS had requested $75 billion in funding from Congress to stay afloat.
In a Oval Office signing ceremony late last month with President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that a $10 billion dollar loan for USPS was authorized in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, the CARES Act.
It also has not yet been approved for the loan from the Treasury Department, USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer confirmed Friday, saying that the postal service is still in discussions with the department over the terms and conditions of the loan.
“My team is already actively working on that with the Postal Service, if they need the money,” Mnuchin previously said, adding that, “We are going to put certain criteria for our postal reform program as part of the loan.”
Trump then attacked USPS, calling it “a joke” for losing money delivering packages for Amazon “and other internet companies.”
He said if the USPS doesn’t raise its price on packages, “I’m not signing anything” or authorizing the loan.
CNN’s Jason Hoffman, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.