Despite downsizing and other efficiency measures, the U.S. Postal Service’s productivity levels have decreased in the past year.
USPS delivered fewer than 139 mail pieces per work hour in July, a 3.7% decrease from the July 2011 level of 144 pieces, according to preliminary numbers the service released Tuesday. The agency’s net loss for the month was $1.327 billion, nearly $300 million more than planned and more than $500 million worse than last year.
The productivity trend for the full fiscal year (starting October 1) isn’t much better. USPS has delivered 143 pieces per work hour so far in FY2012, down 2.5% from the same 10 months of FY2011.
Mail volume declined more than 4% versus a year ago. But the number of employees has only dropped by about 2%, and they are working more overtime this year.
One key to the lower productivity is delivery costs: Personnel costs for both “city delivery” and “rural delivery” are slightly higher so far this year, despite the drop in mail volume. Delivery costs are more sensitive to the number of delivery points, which are increasing, than to total mail volume.
Many of the Postal Service's proposed efficiency improvements, such as eliminating Saturday delivery and reducing the number of post offices, have been stymied by Congressional inaction.