USPS Study Charts Household Mail Activity

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Households received 61.8 billion pieces of Standard Regular Mail and 12.4 billion pieces of Standard Nonprofit Mail in the U.S. Postal Service's 2003 fiscal year, according to the agency's annual "Household Diary Study," published on its Web site yesterday.

That combined total of 74.2 billion surpassed the 71.1 billion for fiscal 2002. In 2002, 61.3 billion pieces were Standard Regular, and 9.8 billion were Standard Nonprofit.

The study measures mail sent and received by U.S. households and provides a means to track household mail trends over time and compare types of households. The report this year covers Sept. 7, 2002, to Sept. 6, 2003.

Ad mail represented the majority of all mail received by households in 2003, and 76 percent of this mail is sent as Standard, totaling 10.1 pieces per household weekly. The rest consists of First-Class Mail, either standalone advertising (9.8 billion pieces) or mail containing advertising along with other matter (7.8 billion).

Households got about 7 billion pieces of Periodicals mail in postal fiscal year 2003. Households also received 2 billion packages and sent 350 million packages in that period. They received more packages via Standard than other classifications, about 45 percent of the total.

Overall, the study found that the USPS delivered 201.3 billion pieces of mail in FY 2003. This total dropped 0.2 percent from 201.8 billion last year.

Mail is affected by household income, education, age and size, the report said. Two out of five U.S. households received 30 or more pieces of mail weekly in 2003, and these households had about twice the incomes of those receiving less mail. The heads of households receiving 45 or more pieces of mail weekly are four times more likely to have a college degree as households receiving fewer than 12 pieces a week.

The report also found that households receiving the most mail are the most wired. For example, 87 percent receiving 30 or more mail pieces weekly have Internet access and pay 57 percent of all bills electronically.

Households with Internet access tend to send and receive more correspondence mail -- which includes greeting cards, personal letters, invitations and announcements -- than households without, a danger sign for mail, the report said, because this volume is more vulnerable to diversion.

The study has been fielded continuously since 1987 and collects information on demographics, lifestyle, attitudes toward mail and advertising, bill-payment behavior and the Internet's effect on mail. To download the report, visit

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