The U.S. Postal Service hasn't been doing well for a while now. Even though it achieved its first revenue increase in five years, it still lost $5 billion in fiscal year 2013. This marks the seventh consecutive year of losses for the USPS, which lost a record $15.9 billion last year. Part of the reason is that people just aren't sending as much mail these days. Why send a physical letter when you can send a message online? The Postal Service's most profitable product, first-class mail delivery, has been going down -- mail volume peaked in 2000 and has decreased by almost a third since then. On the brighter side, it seems that people are buying more things online now, and the USPS's package volume has been on the rise. As the Postal Service struggles to survive, it will be interesting to see how it adapts to the changing economy in the coming years. Here are a few links to some things about the USPS that you may not know.
- The USPS has the nation's largest distribution network, with 461 distribution centers that are linked to 21 major network hubs, 32,000 local post offices, and 213,000 delivery vehicles. In comparison, FedEx has only six network hubs in the U.S., and its global network has only a quarter as many vehicles and a third as many offices. [url]
- The official USPS website actually has a comprehensive page of interesting postal facts. For example, ZIP codes were introduced in 1963 to make handling increasing volumes of mail easier. A related fun fact: The easiest ZIP code to remember -- 12345 -- is assigned to General Electric in Schenectady, NY. And each year, GE receives thousands of letters from kids who think that the ZIP code for Santa's address in the North Pole is 12345. [url]
- Sunday mail delivery used to be the norm. In 1810, Congress passed a law that required post offices to be open for at least one hour on Sundays (and when everything else was closed on Sundays, post offices became the local "taverns" where people would go get their mail and then stay on to drink and play cards). Then in 1912, Congress passed another law that forced post offices to close on Sundays. [url]
- Sunday mail delivery is back! As part of a deal with Amazon, the USPS will begin delivering packages on Sundays again. Sunday delivery has already started in New York and Los Angeles, and the service should be extended to many more cities next year. [url]
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