J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Postal Service to Hire 100,000 Employees in 2021

The hiring is part of a $40 billion investment in the mailing agency's workforce and infrastructure.

The U.S. Postal Service is planning to hire 100,000 employees in 2021, looking to fill vacancies that have contributed to logjams in the mailing agency’s network and widespread delivery delays.

Since nearly the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, postal management has cited high rates of employee unavailability as a leading cause of mail delays, which were exacerbated by changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and other impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. Tens of thousands of USPS employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and many more have missed at least some time to quarantine after being exposed to the virus. DeJoy has frequently noted high turnover rates within the postal workforce and pledged to reverse the trend through better pay and retention incentives. 

The hiring campaign started in January of 2021 and will continue into January of 2022, said Dave Partenheimer, a postal spokesman. USPS is looking to stop the bleeding on attrition while also engaging in an annual hiring spree to prepare for the upcoming holiday season, the mailing agency’s busiest time of the year. The Postal Service will begin recruiting for its peak season next week, which will account for about 40,000 of the hires. The 2020 holiday season coincided with a surge in postal employees contracting COVID-19 or quarantining, contributing to unprecedented delays

Partenheimer said the overall hiring initiative is a component of the $40 billion investment DeJoy has pledged to make in USPS infrastructure and its workforce, which is all a part of the postmaster general’s 10-year plan to put the agency on firmer financial footing. The Postal Service is currently seeking drivers, letter carrier assistants, mail handlers, processing clerks and others. 

In a video message to employees last month, DeJoy said more postal workers were returning every day. He added that in addition to hiring, USPS plans to convert 33,000 non-career employees into career positions in the coming months. 

“New employees play an important role in our ability to fulfill our mission today and far into the future,” DeJoy said. 

Postal workers have taken advantage of a recent law allowing all federal employees up to 15 weeks of paid leave to deal with issues related to the pandemic, exacerbating USPS workforce issues. USPS employees have taken 6.7 million hours of time off authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act, accounting for 87% of the total hours logged across government. Those hours have cost about $170 million, which will be paid out of a special account funded by Congress. 

In his recent message, DeJoy implored employees to stick around for the holiday season in 2021.

“We want to ensure that we have every current employee in place,” he said. “Your presence is important during the crucial peak timeframe. We will need all hands on deck. Please plan your time off accordingly.”

The hiring surge comes on the heels of workforce attrition measures USPS undertook earlier this year, in which thousands of non-union administrative and management staff were provided separation incentives and, ultimately, layoff notices. Postal officials had said the changes would help shrink the agency's administrative footprint and many of those impacted would be able to find new jobs within USPS.