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U.S. Postal Service Overhaul Captured in Latest Maponics ZIP Code Data Release

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After its eighth consecutive quarter of significant financial losses, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would begin a massive re-evaluation of its delivery infrastructure in February of this year (http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2009/pr09_015.htm ). Aiming to cut billions in ongoing costs, the USPS planned to look at:

  • consolidating facilities (post offices, sorting centers, etc.)
  • reducing staff (mostly by not filling open positions)
  • reorganizing the areas covered by postal carrier routes* and ZIP Codes (to increase efficiency, and address facility closings and staffing reductions)
  • changing mail delivery schedules and post office retail hours

The result of this postal reorganization has been higher quarterly ZIP Code and carrier route change rates, especially in the second half of 2009.  As an example, in the three month period between this Maponics ZIP Code data release and the last one in August, 12% of all Cook County, IL ZIP Codes have been changed**.  And since the February Maponics data release, 22% of these ZIP Codes have been changed.

The table below shows the % of ZIP Codes that have been changed since Maponics' February ZIP Code data release for the five Cook County postal towns*** with the most ZIP codes.

What type of on-the-ground alterations cause ZIP Code data changes? Here are some announcements issued by the USPS that pertain specifically to Cook County postal reorganization:

Most of the Chicago area ZIP Code data changes seen in the last quarter were the result of ZIP Code and carrier route delivery area reconfigurations. But the image above shows an example of ZIP coverage area change in Henry County, IL that is the result of a postal branch closure. In this case, the Ophiem, IL post office was closed, and the surrounding ZIP Codes (including 61413, pictured) were expanded to pick up the delivery area no longer served by the Ophiem post office.

It is expected that the U.S. Postal Service reorganization will continue well into 2010. In fact, there are currently 437 post offices still under evaluation for closure. This week, Maponics issued a press release discussing the record number of changes we're seeing in our postal data.  You can read that announcement here, or learn more about our ZIP code data here.

Some definitions:

*   Carrier Route: the building block of a ZIP Code.  The U.S. Postal Services assigns the same carrier route code to a subgroup of addresses within a ZIP Code to aid in mail sorting and delivery.  Typically, a carrier route represents the geographical area to which an individual mail carrier delivers every day.

**   ZIP Code Change: the addition or deletion of a ZIP Code, or significant change to a ZIP Code’s delivery area (the addition or deletion of one or more carrier routes that make up a ZIP Code).

***   Postal Town Name: the town name the U.S. Postal Service associates with a given ZIP Code.