Fewer Jobs, Longer Wait Times: The New Postal Service Slogan?

David Goldman/AP

This story has been updated.

Jobs at the U.S. Postal Service will disappear at a faster clip over the next eight years than in any other labor sector, according to an analysis from the Labor Department.

In its 2014-2015 Occupational Outlooks Handbook, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics identified three separate USPS categories that will see a workforce reduction of more than 26 percent by 2022, the three largest declines of the nearly 600 positions from different sectors included in the projections. Total employment for Postal Service clerks will drop by 32 percent by 2022, BLS predicted, marking the largest decrease, followed by Postal Service mail sorters, processors, processing machine operators and mail carriers.

"In those three sectors, Postal Service jobs will decline 28 percent by 2022 -- a reduction of more than 139,000 jobs. That analysis was based on 2012 data, when USPS employed 491,600 employees in those positions."

The Postal Service has aggressively used buyout and early retirement incentives to reduce its workforce during the last several years as part of a larger effort to better align its network with declining mail volumes. It shed 37,400 jobs in fiscal 2013 alone, and has cut more than 200,000 jobs in the last several years. Most of the cuts that BLS anticipated may come sooner rather than later; Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said he plans to shed an additional 100,000 jobs by 2017. At that point, the agency hopes to once again begin hiring.

USPS Wants More Time to Deliver Mail

In other Postal Service news, the agency has asked its regulatory body to allow USPS to alter the delivery schedule for most standard mail. 

The change would apply to bulk mailings, which currently gets bottlenecked at the beginning of each week. Mail dropped off at post offices in cities that require more than one ZIP code on Thursday or Friday currently is delivered on Monday, while mail dropped off on Saturday is delivered on Tuesday.

The proposal would keep the Monday delivery day for mail dropped off on Thursday. But mailed dropped off on Friday at such post offices would be delivered on Tuesday, while the Postal Service would deliver Saturday drop-offs on Wednesday.

While an individual mailer dropping off a postcard may not be affected by this proposal, most large mailers would feel the delay. The revised delivery schedule would impact about 32 percent of overall mail, or 62 percent of standard mail.

The Postal Service called its plan “load leveling,” saying it would create “a more even distribution of mail volume delivered throughout the week.”

In its obligatory request to the Postal Regulatory Commission, USPS attorneys said the agency “determined that it is necessary to take steps to level the load on the network now to help reduce current and future costs.”

The proposal comes as a double-whammy for the Postal Service’s biggest customers, who were infuriated by the recent decision to raise postal rates more than the standard inflationary amount. 

Correction: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect the Postal Service job loss figures. Overall, USPS will shed 169,000 positions between 2012 and 2022, from a total of 611,000 employees.

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