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Monday, April 15, 2013

U.S. Postal Service Workforce Size and Employment Categories, FY1987-FY2012

Meredith A. Levine
Analyst in Government Organization and Management

This report provides data from the past 26 years on the size of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s) workforce. Further, this report examines trends in workforce composition, particularly focusing on shifts in the ratio between career and non-career employment.

USPS employed 629,028 persons as of September 30, 2012 (FY2012). USPS’s workforce size has dropped by 170,772 employees (21.4%) in the past 26 years, and USPS had 16,922 (2.6%) fewer employees at the end of FY2012 than it did at the end of FY2011. Since 1987, the career/non-career composition of USPS’s workforce has also changed. The number of career employees has declined 29.6%, while the number of non-career employees has increased 105.3%. In FY2011, USPS hired 10,471 employees for a new non-career position referred to as postal support employee (PSE). The number of PSEs increased 93.7% to 20,281 between FY2011 and FY2012.

Although the size of each employment category has shifted over the past 26 years, three overarching trends are apparent. First, “rural” employment categories grew significantly. Second, three categories of USPS employees involved in the transportation of mail prior to its delivery— mail handlers, motor vehicle operators, and vehicle maintenance personnel—grew through the 1980s and 1990s, peaked in the early 2000s, and either returned to their FY1987 levels in FY2012 or declined below those levels. Third, non-bargaining temporary employees have increased more than tenfold from 297 in FY1987 to 3,537 in FY2012.

In recent years, the USPS has experienced significant financial challenges. After running modest profits from FY2004 through FY2006, the USPS lost $41.1 billion between FY2007 and FY2012. The USPS’s financial circumstances have prompted it to undertake cost-cutting measures, primarily through workforce reductions. USPS has reduced its workforce size through attrition and separation incentives to retire or resign. Since FY2007, there has been a reduction of 156,901 employees from USPS’s workforce.

The USPS has indicated that it intends to continue to reduce its workforce size and has established a goal of 155,000 additional position reductions by 2016. On February 6, 2013, USPS announced it intended to cease delivering letter mail on Saturdays as of August 1, 2013. This change would affect the equivalent of 35,000 positions. Throughout 2012, USPS offered several retirement incentives to its employees, including postmasters, mail handlers, postal clerks, and supervisors.

Date of Report: April 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: RS22864
Price: $29.95

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