Whats up with mail blog art

Whether you live in a bustling city like New York City or Los Angeles, a rural area in the Midwest or Great Plains, or somewhere in between, we all have one thing in common — we’re still using the mail in some way.

Yes, First-Class Mail (FCM) volume has been in decline for several years. From 2009-2012, total mail volume declined more than 10 percent annually, although since 2013, the average rate of decline has slowed to less than 6 percent. And single-piece FCM — or the type of mail sent by everyday Americans, such as birthday cards and wedding invitations ― has been dropping since 1996.

But that doesn’t tell the full story. In fact, it barely tells a story at all.

Our recent paper, What’s up with Mail? How Mail Use Is Changing Across the United States, found that where you live is suggestive of how much mail you send and receive. For example, nationally, the average adult resident sent 83 pieces of mail in fiscal year (FY) 2015. However, this ranged from as low as 56 pieces in New Mexico, to as high as 169 in Vermont.

When it comes to sending commercial products, it’s clear why certain areas experience more volume. For example, FCM Presort (which makes up 26 percent of total mail volume) and Marketing Mail (formerly known as Standard Mail and which represents over 52 percent of total mail volume) are often sent from central locations to people all across the country. So, of course those central locations will have high volume numbers.

However, where the bulk of this mail is sent also varies by region, with other factors playing a role as well. For example, residents of suburban areas and in higher-income ZIP Codes receive more commercial mail than those with lower incomes.

Even among communities close to one another, there can be great variation in mail volume. For example, within the Los Angeles metropolitan area, adults in Inglewood received an average of 196 pieces of Marketing Mail in FY 2015 while their wealthier neighbors a few miles away in Santa Monica received on average 539 pieces.

We would like to hear your thoughts on why you think these regional mail variations exist. Do you think the U.S. Postal Service could explore opportunities based on these distinctions? Have you lived in different regions of the country in your life and noticed more or less mail volume?

Comments (8)

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  • anon

    It seems like the USPS is getting more and more incompetent. I sent a PRIORITY package that was slated for 2-3 day delivery. Checked the delivery status online after 3 daqys and was told that it will be DELAYED in delivery. So, after reviewing the route of where it scanned, I can see why. A package leaving DENVER, CO to GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND goes to SPOKANE, WASHINGTON first? How in the history of this world does that ever make sense? Go to the WEST coast FIRST before heading back EAST? No wonder it is delayed. This feels like super false advertisement, as my package doesn't seem to be a 'priority' of taking 2 or 3 days. It has now taken 4-5 days maybe even a week! That isn't PRIORITY standards, that has become FIRST CLASS! I will now no longer use USPS to send outgoing packages as it seems they can't even get the destination correct. When you raise prices on cost and do a crappy job of a timely delivery (like what you said it would take), it is no longer worth the trouble to use when there are so many other methods of delivery out there. Has happened to me way too many times, so please doen't even blame it on weather or engine failure or something. Very unhappy!

    Oct 06, 2017
  • anon

    Just got a package that was clearly labelled for delivery to my house from my neighbour across the street I am at 915 and the neighbour is 920, clearly different and wrong. The USPS GPS system confirmed that the delivery was wrong and my wife went across the street and collected or package and mail. Delivery to the wrong address when all is clear should put a very large black mark in the delivery persons record at the very least as carriers need to be held to high standards and accountability. Admittedly we can all make mistakes but with something like the mail which can have a high value these mistakes need to be dropped to very near zero nationwide. Apparently the carrier new they had not delivered anything to 915 as well, so what gives?

    Aug 30, 2017
  • anon

    Missing a l0t of mail Durham North Carolina.

    Aug 08, 2017
  • anon

    I cannot access my mail. My post master has been unresponsive. I have made complaints via telephone and the online form. Still nothing, no contact, nothing. Even the OIG has abused their authority. What next?

    Jun 26, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Jun 26, 2017
  • anon

    mailed letter to angier, N.C. 27501 -- mail was returned 2 weeks later ? it appears the local post office has not allowed the manager of 40 + Apt. Units a box for mail to be delivered ? what reason for non--mail-box for this manager ? best regards, Chuck 25 May 2017

    May 25, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Charles, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service.

    May 25, 2017
  • anon

    After placing mail in our rural mailbox and putting the flag up, the mail remained in there. I took it out the next day and went to the post office. When I mentioned to the window clerk to remind the rural carrier to watch for flags being up for mail. Her response was.....if there is no mail delivery to that home, they are under no obligation to pick up. IS this true? I was shocked, as others are that I have shared this information with. Please confirm if this is true or not. Thank you.

    Apr 25, 2017

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