The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employed 656,000 people in 2010 making it one of the largest single employers in the United States. It handles billions of pieces of mail annually and has been in service since before we were even a nation (1775). In fact, the constitution itself calls for the establishment and maintenance of a postal service. While the rise of electronic means of exchanging data has had an impact on the USPS by reducing the number of items it is charged with carrying annually, the USPS continues to provide and important function in our society. Do not be fooled, no for-profit entity would charge the same amount for daily mail pick-up and delivery to those in distant and hard to reach rural areas as it would charge residents of a densly packed city.
It is true that the USPS is operating at a bit of a loss these days but that could be remedied with a few cent increase in the price of a stamp. While the USPS has been downsizing to adjust to the new realities of the Internet age it is also true that from November 1981 to 2010 the price of a standard stamp increased by less than the cost of inflation. The United States has one of the least expensive postal services anywhere. If you’re interested in how the USPS compares with postal rates in other countries, there is a nice chart on thet subject available here.
Geographic reference: United States
Year: 1960 and 2010
Market size: Pieces of Mail Handled: 63.7 and 170.6 Billion respectively
Market size: Number of Post Offices: 35,238 and 27,077 respectively
Source: Pieces of Mail Handled, Number of Post Offices, Income, and Expenses, 1789 to 2010, available online here.
Original Source: United States Postal Service