The agency is projecting a 0.6% decrease in work hours during Fiscal Year 2016, according to an annual financial plan it released Friday. That suggests this will be the third consecutive year of virtually no change in the size of the workforce, after a three-year period (2010-2013) in which the service shed one-sixth of its career employees. Work hours and the number of employees actually inched up during FY2015.
The financial report says that Phase II of Network Rationalization (the politically sensitive closing of mail-processing centers) and a 2.1% decrease in mail volume will make the slight cuts in workhours possible.
“These savings are forecasted to be partially offset by increases in training hours, growth initiatives and the impact of an additional delivery day for Leap Year,” the report says.
A change of plans
The Postal Service released a five-year plan in April 2013 that called for cutting 92,000 career employees by September 2017, then almost immediately put the brakes on more than a decade of downsizing: Since that report was released, the career workforce has hardly budged, ending FY 2015 at 492,000.
That 2013 plan projected many of the cuts would come from curtailing Saturday deliveries, but that proposal has apparently been abandoned. Five-day delivery isn’t even mentioned in the FY2016 financial plan.
“The continued growth in the number of packages -- which are much more labor-intensive than letters – and the ever-growing number of delivery points, make it increasingly difficult to capture work hour savings,” says the FY2016 plan. “We will continue to innovate to drive efficiency.”
Assuming that the 4.3% exigent surcharge on most postal rates will be eliminated early next year, the plan projects a revenue increase of only $400 million, to $69.3 billion. With an estimated $1.5 billion in additional expenses, that would mean an operating loss of $100 million. (Politicians and the news media will call it a $5.9 billion loss because they will include the supposed prepayment of retiree health benefits that postal officials wisely refuse to pay).
Other articles on the Postal Service workforce include:
- USPS Struggles With Wave of New Hires
- Why Letter Carriers Are Not an Endangered Species
- Prospects Dim for USPS Early-Retirement Offer
- 10 Ways E-Commerce Is Reshaping the USPS