What it takes to keep those catalogs coming

Released: 
February 09, 2013

The U.S. Postal Service is losing billions of dollars every year as mail volume declines in this digital era. Its future is uncertain.

See that little white truck out front by the mailboxes? There’s more where it came from. In fact, the United States Postal Service operates the largest civilian vehicle fleet on earth. 213,881 vehicles were driven 4 million miles per day in 2011 to deliver 554 million pieces of mail. But mail volume and revenue have been in decline since 2006 and the Post Office, which gets no government subsidies, is on track to lose $14.1 billion in fiscal 2012.

The Postal Service had 546,000 employees in 2011, the same staffing level it reported in 1983, and operated nearly 32,000 retail offices. At 45 cents, a first-class postage stamp remains a bargain compared to some other countries: in Denmark, equivalent postage costs $1.46.

Roll today’s video for more on the dilemmas facing the 21st century Postal Service. In a world where e-everything replaces more paper each day, what’s the future of a national postal service? What, if anything, should be done at a policy level to keep our millions of non-Internet users “connected”? Deliver your opinions below.