The U.S. Postal Service posted a $2.2 billion loss in the first quarter of this year — and is warning that, unless Congress helps, it could become insolvent before the year is out. Here, a by-the-numbers guide to the "dire financial straits" the U.S.P.S. faces, and the potential federal bailout it could get:

$7 billion
Amount the U.S. Postal Service is expected to lose this fiscal year, according to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, as cited by The Washington Post

$8.5 billion
Total amount the Postal Service lost in fiscal 2010

$20 billion
Total losses by the Postal Service since 2007, according to Robert Johnson at Business Insider

$42 billion
Additional losses the Postal Service expects over the next four years, according to The Wall Street Journal

$5.5 billion
Size of the payment for future retiree health benefits due Sept. 30. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the Postal Service may not be able to make that payment and is seeking permission to skip it and switch to a different model for retiree health benefits.

171 billion
Pieces of mail handled by the U.S.P.S. last year, down from 213 billion in 2006. Email and express services, such as FedEx, have driven down mail volumes.

Estimated percentage of the world's mail carried by the U.S. Postal Service, according to Reuters

$1.2 to $1.6 billion
Amount the Postal Service says it expects to save in fiscal 2011 through cost-cutting measures. But those savings could be offset by high fuel prices.

Jobs the Postal Service announced in March that it would eliminate to cut costs

Postal locations that the U.S.P.S. said it would close

$5.8 billion
Estimated cost of replacing the Postal Service's fleet of delivery trucks, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. The report found that the U.S.P.S. needs a new fleet but can't afford it.

$50 billion to $75 billion
Estimated size of the "bailout" being proposed in a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Sources: Business Insider,, Reuters, Wall St. Journal, Wash. Post

Editor's Note: This article originally misidentified the postmaster general. It has since been revised. We regret the error.