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Americans' Use of the U.S. Postal Service: An AARP Bulletin Survey

The purpose of this brief Bulletin Poll was to examine the extent to which adults 18 years of age and older use the services of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and whether or not they would support various options geared towards helping the USPS reduce or offset its expenses. 

Key findings include:

  • Overall, four in five adults age 18 years and older report sending, on average, at least one item of mail (e.g., letters, bill payments, packages) per month.
  • Those age 50 and older tend to send more mail per month, on average, than their counterparts under 50.
  • Older adults also send mail more frequently than those under 50.  Nearly half (47%) of adults 50+ report sending mail four or more times a month, compared with nearly a quarter (23%) of those under 50.   
  • Sending mail has declined over the years, however.  Although older adults send more mail than younger adults do, both groups acknowledge that the amount of mail they send nowadays is less than the amount they used to send five years ago. 
  • The amount and frequency of mailings vary by household income level as well.  Respondents with incomes of $50,000 or more report sending more mail (and sending it more frequently) than those with lower levels of income. 
  • Understandably, the declining use of mailing services among Americans has caused some financial woes for the U.S. Postal Service.  Respondents were asked which of the following options they would choose to help reduce or offset the USPS’s expenses: increase postage stamp prices, increase parcel prices, end Saturday mail deliveries, close some local post offices two additional days per week and/or close some local post offices permanently.  Ending Saturday deliveries was most-often cited as the option of choice for respondents overall (59%)—an option most favored by both younger (53%) and older (63%) respondents alike—as well as by respondents across income levels.
  • In contrast, the least-favored option among respondents was closing some local post offices permanently (28%).  This was also the least-favored option across age groups and income levels as well.

Data were gathered by a random-digit dial telephone omnibus survey from February 20-24, 2013, of 1,021 respondents aged 18+.  For more information, contact Alicia Williiams at 202-434-6186.


Suggested Citation:

Williams, Alicia. Americans' Use of the U.S. Postal Service: An AARP Bulletin Survey. Washington, DC: AARP Research, April 2013.