Mail Room: Ask Sandra

Sandra Long, vice president, Printer Market and Customer Development, Pitney Bowes, answers readers’ questions about mailing. Send your questions to her at Q: Should I be worried about the long term viability of the USPS?

A: The financial numbers are sobering, but our nation’s economic health is largely dependent on the USPS and that won’t change! Specifically, the USPS has lost almost $20 billion in the past few years, and is nearing the limit of its borrowing authority. All mail volumes have declined in this period, especially the lucrative first class mail that provides the profits the USPS needs to fund its other products. However, the USPS is not going out of business now or any time in the future.

How can I be so sure? Without the USPS, the US economy grinds to a halt. It doesn’t slow down—it stops. Untold billions of dollars of commerce flow through the USPS every single day: bills, statements, invoices, packages, parts, hardware, software, pharmaceuticals to name a just a few. Over eight million jobs directly or indirectly depend on the USPS’s operations. Its own forecasts show it will still move in excess of 150 billion pieces of mail in 2020. You can picture the USPS as the circulatory system of the modern economy. Without it, virtually everything stops.

Washington leaders know this, and they will not allow for any interruptions in the daily flow of mail. They also know voter reaction to a USPS shutdown would be considerable. Additionally, Congress acted in early December to provide USPS with financial relief so that facilities will not be impacted until after May 2012. Our leaders in Washington understand the vital importance of the USPS to the American public. There is no need to panic.


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