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Economics & Research Blog

Dr. Joe Discusses the Statistics Behind USPS Pricing and Commercial Printing Volume

Last week,

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: October 7, 2013

Last week, we posted a video presentation about the historical relationship of US Postal Service volume and commercial printing industry shipments. It's not a surprise, as postal rates increase, postal volume declines. Why? Because the cost per unit mailed and the cost of a competitive alternative keeps widening in price. First class mail is being kept in line with the Consumer Price Index, but that matters little, because the competitors keep dropping in price. It's cheaper to put up with the deliverability issues of digital alternatives than it is to use the mail. The presentation also explains how no one really knows what postal rates should really be, and why that distorts the ability of the Postal Service to be proactive for itself and its customers. It's all explained in the video which rivals the sleep-inducing discussion about inflation-adjustment from December 2011. This chart below (click to enlarge) was not included in the presentation. It shows how postal volume has changed on a per capita basis. The bottom line: the average person receives 25 pounds less mail and 225 fewer pieces of mail than in 2000.

change in percapita mail volume 100713

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



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