The United States Postal Service recently released their 2016 Household Diary Study, which, since 1987, has set out to collect data on household use of mail and how that use evolves over time. The survey culls information on “demographics, lifestyle, attitudes toward mail and advertising, bill payment behavior, and use of the Internet and other information technologies.” It’s a long, comprehensive, and interesting (really!) document. We pulled three facts worth noting about transactions mail.
- The share of bills payed electronically has increased—significantly.
Not too surprising, right? In 2006, 62 percent of households paid their bills by mail. In 2016, that number dropped to 27 percent. Conversely, the percentage of households paying electronically has jumped from 32 percent to 70 percent in those ten years. The study attributes this to “electronic diversion” which is another way of saying Internet access. A smaller percentage of households pay their bills in person, but that number also declined in the 10-year span from 6 percent to 3 percent.
- BUT the shift to bills received electronically hasn’t happened as quickly as you might think.
Though the Internet has dramatically affected the number of payments made by mail, the percentage of households receiving bills electronically hasn’t followed the same pattern with an increase from 4 percent to 23 percent. Why? The study attributes this to a correlation of household Internet access with income and education.
- Electric bills experienced the largest decline in payment by mail.
From 2011 to 2016, the percentage of households paying electric bills by mail dropped from 46 percent to 33 percent. The next largest decrease was with medical bills, with a drop from 41 percent in 2011 to 32 percent in 2016.