The problems of the USPS are just as big. It relies on first-class mail to fund most of its operations, but first-class mail volume is steadily declining—in 2005 it fell below junk mail for the first time. This was a significant milestone. The USPS needs three pieces of junk mail to replace the profit of a vanished stamp-bearing letter.More at the link. Via Neatorama, where several salient points are made in the comment thread, particulary whether it should be run as a self-supporting business, or whether it is a service deserving of government support. Your viewpoint may depend on your political leanings...
During the real estate boom, a surge in junk mail papered over the unraveling of the postal service's longtime business plan. Banks flooded mailboxes with subprime mortgage offers and credit-card come-ons. Then came the recession. Total mail volume plunged 20 percent from 2006 to 2010.
Since 2007 the USPS has been unable to cover its annual budget, 80 percent of which goes to salaries and benefits. In contrast, 43 percent of FedEx's budget and 61 percent of United Parcel Service's pay go to employee-related expenses. Perhaps it's not surprising that the postal service's two primary rivals are more nimble. According to SJ Consulting Group, the USPS has more than a 15 percent share of the American express and ground-shipping market. FedEx has 32 percent, UPS 53 percent.
The USPS has stayed afloat by borrowing $12 billion from the U.S. Treasury. This year it will reach its statutory debt limit. After that, insolvency looms.
30 May 2011
U.S. postal service "near collapse"
Excerpts from a long article at Bloomberg Business Week: