NALC: The Latest on Letters – the Surprising Facts on Mail Volume


If you were to take a quick guess, would you say the volume of letters delivered in the last quarter by the U.S. Postal Service has risen or fallen?

More than likely, most Americans would say “fallen.”  And who can blame them?  Certain members of Congress would have the American public believe that letter volume is on a swift, accelerating decline.  They insist that email has displaced the letter, resulting in mail volume’s inexorable downhill trajectory, and taking the Postal Service down with it.

Despite these frequent claims, the facts just don’t back it up.  In fact, recent USPS data shows that both First-Class, single piece letter mail volume and revenue ticked north for the Postal Service’s third quarter.  Compared to the same quarter last year, First-Class, single piece mail volume was up more than 1.5 percent and revenue was up more than 6 percent – this represents the highest percentage third quarter year-over-year increase in the past five years.

As the data shows, the truth is that mail volume fluctuates, rising and falling in line with business trends and the state of the overall economy.  The Postal Service, like countless other American enterprises, is still rebounding from the Great Recession.  As the U.S. economy has improved, letter volume and revenue have increased.

As more businesses emerge from years of belt-tightening, USPS is helping them to expand their operations, reach more customers, manage their accounts, issue invoices and receive payments – all of which has had a positive impact on USPS mail volume.

While the Internet has certainly had an effect on mail volume and revenue, it’s not the one-two punch some might have you believe.  Increased reliance on email and other forms of communication have had an impact on how Americans transmit information and do business, of course, but the Postal Service is a 21st century operation, adjusting to changing market conditions and continuing to provide a vital service upon which millions of American rely.

As the evolution of letter volume and revenue demonstrates, USPS is a modern-day enterprise, experiencing economic highs and lows just like any other business.  It is not on a relentless downhill course, set for obsolescence.

The policymakers developing postal reform plans must take into account USPS’s present day performance and status, not where it was several years ago. Any discussion of Postal Service reform needs to be based in fact, not conjecture and misinformation.

It’s unwise to assume letters are a thing of the past. The U.S. Postal Service delivers more than 160 billion pieces of mail each year – the vast majority of which are letters –and is an important part of American communities and our way of life.  The U.S. Postal Service is an American institution ready for modern, business-minded, fact-based reform.

Remember to check back on Delivering for America on Friday when we expect the Postal Service to release its fiscal year financial results.  As we noted in August, the Postal Service is projecting a $1 billion annual operating profit

The Latest on Letters – the Surprising Facts on Mail Volume » Delivering for America – The Latest on Letters – the Surprising Facts on Mail Volume.

6 thoughts on “NALC: The Latest on Letters – the Surprising Facts on Mail Volume

  1. Volume does fluctuate with the economy, and we’ll never recover the letter volume of decades past. However, the NALC views all mail as important, because it’s what pays the salaries for all of us. I hate delivering junk and marriage mail as much as anybody, and I’ve stuffed millions of boxes full of pizza coupons, political shit, and just about anything else you could imagine for 30 years. Still, it’s what pays me.
    What is wrong is that the Postal Service, who can find more wrong ways to do a relatively simple operation than you can imagine, grossly undercharges for the mail customers want the least, the junk. It’s deliberate as direct marketers have Congress’ ear on establishing rates that make them billions and forces the USPS to deliver at a loss, and compensating for that by greasing the palms of postal officials who could force these marketers to pay at least enough for the Service not to lose money.
    But that’s not how things are done. Corruption is epidemic, stupidity is pandemic, and the Service is a prime breeding ground for both.

  2. Who writes this garbage???? “to the resident of” or “postal patron” does not constitute important mail.

    • Yo Stevieg-those letters you are speaking of arent first class there Einstein-relevance to this article-zero

    • Stevieg – “important” is a matter of perspective. You do realize that “to the resident of” and “postal patron” are paying your salary, don’t you? To me, that makes them important.

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