USPS: A dead monopoly walking

The United States Postal Service was absent from a recent list of dying industries, but should have been included

Nam Y. Huh / AP / File
Denise Mickelson stamps on silk screen cachets from the US postal service at the Tampico Historical Society in Tampico, Ill., Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. How much longer can the United States Postal Service survive?

Analysis from IBIS World lists the top 10 industries going the way of the buggy whip. The Wall Street Journal‘s “Real Time Economics” provides the full list with Wired Telecommunications at the top, followed by Mills and then Newspaper Publishing. As you would expect, renting tuxes and videos is a losing bet, as well as, selling records and photofinishing.

First class, government monopolized mail delivery did not make the list but should have. After all, deliveries by the Postal Service have declined by 43 billion pieces in the last five years, according to USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennen.

“We have nearly 32,000 post offices and only 19% cover their costs” says Brennen.

Brennen’s blue brigade lost $8.5 billion for its fiscal year 2010, which ended last September 30th, after a $3.8 billion loss in ’09.

It’s taken time, but technology has turned the USPS into a dead monopoly walking. First it was the fax machine, then email, now social networking.

Reportedly the law prevents post office closures on purely economic grounds. So, the USPS goal of closing 2,000 branches in 2011 is considered to be aggressive. After all, 491 closures are in process. Next, we’ll hear that the Constitution requires stations in the west to still have freshly watered ponies and fearless riders at the ready in case the trucks break down and the Harry & David Easter catalogs have to be delivered.

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