Post office losses mount to $5.1 billion last year

November 15, 2011 - 3:10 PM
Postal Problems

FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2011 file photo, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The U.S. Postal Service releases a financial update expected to show just under $10 billion in losses for the last year as a weak economy and increased use of the Internet drove down mail volume. Donahoe has warned that the postal service will default on payments owed to the federal government, including $5.5 billion due this Friday for retiree health benefits, and faces a shutdown next fall if Congress does not move swiftly and aggressively to fix the ailing agency’s long-term money problems. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it lost $5.1 billion last year as a weak economy and increased Internet use drove down mail volume.

The bleak financial report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 was not as high as the $10 billion in losses previously estimated. But that's because an annual payment of $5.5 billion the post office owed the federal government has been deferred to a later date.

Postal officials called the financial situation "dire." They say the Postal Service will not be able to make the $5.5 billion payment due this Friday due to low cash flow.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has warned of a postal shutdown next year unless there is congressional action to address the agency's long-term money problems.