Sunday, August 3, 2008

Universal Service and Under-served Communities

In most cases, under-served communities are thought to be in geographic areas where delivery mail volume per delivery point is low and demand for retail services is also low. It is in these communities that the cost of delivery per piece is believed to be higher and a postal administration might offer inferior, slower service to minimize losses. These perceived under-served delivery communities are those with a large number of lower mail volume delivery points and are concentrated in lower income communities. On the retail side, these communities are thought to be the most rural communities where the distance that a customer would have to travel for service might be longer and post offices are open for a limited number of hours.

It is possible though that, at least in regards to retail access, the geographic areas that are most at risk for being under-served are those with the greatest population growth. Given the challenge that the USPS has had in closing, moving, or consolidating retail facilities in communities with little demand, it may be more cautious than it should be in opening new retail facilities in communities with rapid population growth. In the United States, there are 42 metropolitan areas which have had a population growth of greater than 100,000 since 2007, the size of small city. These cities and their growth in population are listed at the end of this post.

It is in these high growth markets that the Postal Service should be experimenting with both modifications of the exiting employee-staffed business model of providing retail services and begin to expand consumer access at less conventional locations and through contractual models that differ from what have been offered in the past. In doing so, the Postal Service could expand access to its network as fast as the population grows generating more parcel and other mail volume. Using a mix of employee and contractual models will also allow it to expand services to communities earlier in a growth cycle than just using a traditional post office model would allow.

Metropolitan Areas Growing by More Than 100,000 Since 2000

Metropolitan Statistical Area Increase in Population Since 2000
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 1,030,892
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 983,517
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 927,551
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 912,699
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 826,554
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 510,502
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 509,964
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 492,606
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 460,798
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI 426,058
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 405,224
Orlando-Kissimmee, FL 387,933
Austin-Round Rock, TX 348,413
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 327,936
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 321,129
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA 294,263
Denver-Aurora, CO /1 285,524
San Antonio, TX 278,954
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 265,462
Raleigh-Cary, NC 250,623
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 247,232
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 239,395
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 209,648
Jacksonville, FL 178,073
Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 169,933
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 161,026
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 149,676
Kansas City, MO-KS 149,006
Columbus, OH 141,493
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 141,051
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 140,817
Salt Lake City, UT 131,090
Bakersfield, CA 129,055
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 124,024
Tucson, AZ 123,343
Boise City-Nampa, ID 122,849
Provo-Orem, UT 116,528
Richmond, VA 116,022
Baltimore-Towson, MD 115,060
Stockton, CA 107,394
Albuquerque, NM 105,467

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