If asked by a friend a neighbor down the street, would you say the volume of letters delivered by the U.S. Postal Service in the last three months to has increased or decreased?
If you are like most Americans, you would likely answer decreased. A number of congressmen want the American public to think the volume of physical mail is falling rapidly. This has led most people to think the email has replaced the letter, rendering the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) obsolete.
However, the facts dispute these claims. In reality, the most recent data from the USPS indicates both first-class, one piece mail volume and revenue increased when comparing August – October 2014 with August – October 2013. First-class, one piece mail increased by over one and one-half percent, and revenue climbed by over six percent. These numbers are the biggest third quarter year-to-year jump in five years.
Data shows mail volume rises and falls with the American economy. Like many other businesses across the country, the USPS is still trying to regain ground lost in the Great Recession. The improving US economy has increased the volume of letters and revenue.
Since many other businesses are also trying to recover from the economic downturn in 2008, the USPS wants to help them grow their operations, widen their customer base, improve account manageability, take payments, and mail invoices. All of this helped increase the USPS volume of mail.
The internet has impacted the volume of mail and revenue serviced by the USPS, but not in the manner you might have expected. More Americans do rely on email and other methods of communication to send information and conduct business with other parties. Nevertheless, the Postal Service is a 21st Century business that adjusts to changing conditions in the market, while always guaranteeing services Americans rely on every day.
The USPS has proven itself to be a modern-day enterprise through last quarter’s significant increase in letter volume and overall revenue. The Postal Service highs and lows mirror those seen in the rest of the American economy. For these reasons, technology will not render the USPS obsolete any time soon.
When policymakers want to reform the operations of the USPS, they must first consider the Postal Services current level of business, and ignore performance data from years ago. Reforms on the Postal Service system must use facts, not misinformation.
Considering first-class mail antiquated is foolish. Delivering over 160 billion pieces of mail every year, most of which are letters, the U.S. Postal Service plays a vital role in American society. The USPS has adapted to technological changes through its history, and the system is ready for fact-based reform.