Soon it may cost you more to mail letters and packages. The Postal Service is facing a $6 billion loss this year and is running out of cash to pay its bills. The Postal Service Board of Governors, meeting in Kansas City today, will consider an emergency rate increase. The Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warned a Senate Committee last week that the agency is in “the midst of a financial disaster.” Donahue wants Congress to give the Postal Service greater authority to improve its finances. “The Postal Service as it exists today is financially unsustainable,” he said. A price hike could be coming for everything from stamps to magazines and promotional mail. Early retirement has been offered to thousands of managers. But even these measures may not be nearly enough to significantly reduce a sea of red ink.
Certainly there are no signs of panic but the Dow Jones Industrial index closed down for a fourth straight day, falling 66 points. Uneasiness is growing on Wall Street about a possible partial federal government shutdown Oct. 1 and the failure to reach a compromise in the debt ceiling debate. There’s not much change for futures this morning.
If there’s an upside surprise it’s the continued strength of the housing market. “We’re at the peak speed and the speed will gradually slow down over the next several months, which is probably a good thing,” says economist David Blitzer of S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Rising interest rates don’t seem to have much impact on home prices yet or on home sales at this point.” Yesterday’s Case Shiller report was the latest to show the housing recovery is still strong.
A fairly gloomy outlook for holiday hiring. The number of temporary workers hired for the holiday shopping season hit a 12-year high in 2012, but sagging consumer confidence and increased efficiency by retailers may prevent seasonal employment gains year, says global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In its annual holiday hiring forecast, Challenger estimates that seasonal job gains will not see a significant decline from last year’s robust numbers, but they are likely to at best match the level of hiring that occurred in October, November, and December last year. In 2012, retail employment increased by 751,800 between October 1 and December 31. Last year marked the fourth consecutive increase in holiday hiring since 2008, at the height of the recession.
The giant bank JP Morgan Chase has offered to settle federal and state investigation into its handling of mortgage-backed securities by paying $3 billion. “The Justice Department rejected that sum as billions of dollars too low for the number of cases involved,” a source tells the Wall Street Journal.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow