USPS acknowledges some risks to its new, less-staffed holiday season approach
The Postal Service is cutting its seasonal hiring by nearly two-thirds.
The U.S. Postal Service is planning to hire just 10,000 temporary employees during the current holiday season as part of a new approach that management has acknowledged comes with some risks.
The seasonal hiring marks a 64% reduction from the employees brought on in 2022 during what USPS calls its “peak season” when the agency made 28,000 temporary hires. The agency had said it would bring on just 20,000 seasonal workers that year, but a recent USPS inspector general report found it reached a higher tally.
This will mark the second consecutive year in which the Postal Service significantly reduces its seasonal hiring. In 2021, USPS added 45,000 non-permanent staff for the holiday rush. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said additions to the permanent, career workforce has lessened the need for such a surge. In the last two years, the agency has converted 150,000 employees from part-time workers to full-time, career personnel.
As a result, supervisor vacancies have declined, overtime is down and employee availability has improved throughout most of the country, DeJoy said, leading him to predict earlier this year that seasonal hiring for the holidays would be “very limited in scope.”
The Postal Service is planning to hire about 4,500 retail and delivery employees, down 30% from last year, and about 5,500 operations and processing workers, a 75% reduction.
“We have been strategically planning early and leveraging significant investments in our people, infrastructure, delivery network, and technology,” DeJoy said last week, adding the reforms implemented as part of his 10-year Delivering for America plan would make USPS the “most affordable way to ship and mail holiday cheer this year.”
USPS previously announced it would not, unlike in recent years, include a surcharge on its products this peak season. The agency noted that after changes to its network and the addition of new machines, it can now process 70 million packages per day and has dramatically reduced its dependence on often less-reliable air transportation.
The IG agreed USPS has developed plans for the holidays and if it is able to see that through, "it should be prepared" to handle its busiest time of the year. It added, however, that USPS consolidating its processing operation has created risk for package delays. The IG has begun examining performance at one of the Postal Service’s upcoming new mega-centers—formally known as Regional Processing and Distribution Centers—located in North Houston, Texas, and early results have indicated an uptick in USPS missing its targets.
Isaac Cronkhite, USPS' chief processing and distribution officer, said some problems may crop up but management is confident it can address them.
"While we acknowledge that there is some risk associated with the significant changes to our network and how we process our products, we believe that the benefits of streamlining operations outweigh the risk," Cronkhite said. "We are prepared to mitigate any risk associated with the changes."
DeJoy echoed that confidence.
"In the face of the busiest shipping season, the United States Postal Service stands ready," DeJoy said. “We are confident in our ability to handle the holiday season surge with the same efficiency and reliability that the nation has come to expect from us throughout the year.”