A tale of three charts


We’ve been writing a lot lately about the Postal Service’s financial woes, and I thought a few graphics might illustrate why it’s in such a tough position.

First, mail volume since 2000. You’ll notice that First-Class and Express mail volumes have dropped significantly; Standard Mail has increased modestly:

Standard Mail dipped a bit last year. That’s probably temporary: Once the economy turns around, the numbers will stabilize. But the declines in First-Class and Express Mail? Those are probably permanent.

The Postal Service’s revenue figures (adjusted for inflation) paint a similar picture. First-Class Mail revenue has slipped about 10 percent since 2000 — higher rates have prevented a bigger drop — and Standard Mail revenues are up slightly. You see why First-Class Mail is so important, though: An extra 10 billion pieces of Standard Mail only translates to $2 billion in added revenue.

Finally, here’s how the “mail mix” has changed from 2000 to 2008:

First-Class Mail used to account for half of the Postal Service’s mail volume. Now it’s dropped below that mark — for the first time since the Postal Service started keeping track.


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