The U.S. Postal Service has lost $1.2 billion so far this fiscal year, the agency reported Tuesday.

The net loss occurred between the start of the agency's fiscal year on Sept. 22 and Jan. 11, underscoring the need for the postage rate hike that took effect Sunday, officials said.The law requires the post office, which no longer receives a taxpayers subsidy, to break even in its operations.

The loss occurred despite a productivity increase of 1.4 percent during the same period, said Postmaster General Anthony Frank.