Monday, September 1, 2014

USPS Employment Levels Have Stabilized

After years of massive downsizing, the U.S. Postal Service’s workforce has stopped shrinking, at least temporarily.

USPS recently reported having 616,025 active employees, just 362 fewer than a year ago. The number of full-timers actually inched up by 1,464, to 467,844.

That’s a far cry from the previous six years, when the annual workforce reductions ranged from 13,000 to nearly 53,000. Automation, facility closures, declining mail volumes, and a series of early-retirement offers reduced the number of postal workers by 183,000 from 2005 to 2013.

In presenting USPS’s “Plan to Profitability” to Congress in March 2012, Postmaster General Pat Donahoe testified, “The Postal Service projects a further reduction of the equivalent of 155,000 full-time career employees by 2016, which we plan to achieve largely through attrition as half of our career employees are eligible for optional or early retirement.”

But USPS employs only 34,000 fewer full-timers than it did when Donahoe presented that plan. Congress has blocked or slowed such postal “right-sizing” proposals as curtailing Saturday delivery, consolidating the mail-processing network, and closing unprofitable post offices.

Downsizing of the postal workforce seems likely to resume soon, however. USPS is moving forward with a plan to close about 80 processing centers in the next few months, which could lead to a reduction of 15,000 jobs. A recent effort to block the plan in Congress has apparently fizzled out, as have numerous proposals to reform the laws that have pushed the agency into the red.

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

..."and smart-aleck comments..."
lol, i like that. but hey, let's be honest, dead tree has been known to post some idiotic stuff or half-baked assumptions that often needs corrected or at the very least some 'smart-aleck
comments' to try and set the record straight.

ET-10 Simmons said...

1st. Can the DTE author who posted this please relay to me exactly where they acquired this specific graph or the information contained therein? Thank you so much.

2nd. ‘Active’ employees?.. The correct terminology is career and non-career. At present, to the best of my knowledge, we have about 485k career employees. The ultimate goal of the PMG is 400k. We had well over 850k career employees in 2000, so I wouldn't exactly refer to our employee levels as stable/static/ etc.

3rd. I consider this most important. Since 2000, USPS Corporate has quoted labor cost figures of 80, 78 and 73% at various/random intervals. I have documentation which states 78%, so let’s go with that. For labor costs to remain virtually static, one of two things HAS to be true: 1. Eliminating around 400k career positions FOREVER had absolutely NO impact on labor costs and was therefore pointless, or 2. The labor cost number is a LIE.

I'm going with #2. I believe the elimination of any more career positions will only further the continuing destruction of 1st class mail service, in direct violation of US Code Section 39 Title 101, and is therefore not only unnecessary, but illegal.

ET-10 Simmons said...

http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140828/MGMT02/308280011/Postal-Service-forges-ahead-job-cuts-plant-closures

D. Eadward Tree said...

Good questions, ET-10 Simmons. My answers:

1) I created the graph from data obtained from USPS's Postal Service Active Employee Statistical Summary (HAT Reports), which are among the reports posted at http://prc.gov/prc-pages/library/usps-periodic-reports/default.aspx. The most recent report is for Pay Period 18, so I used the reports for the same period in previous years.

2) The reports referenced in #1 refer to "Active Employees." I believe the reports exclude some employees who are on certain kinds of extended leave. I used the term "Part-Time Employees" to cover all those not categorized as Full-Time, such as PSEs and temps as well as those specifically labeled as Part-Time.

3) I have typically seen references to labor costs in the 78%-80% range. I assume the proportion has remained fairly constant because declining mail volume has decreased some non-labor costs and because stuff like retiree benefits and workers' comp may not decrease or may even increase despite the declining workforce.

Anonymous said...

The Postal Service has eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs through attrition and hiring freezes since its glory days when there were over 800,000 employees. Unfortunately, Postal Headquarters, Area Offices and District Offices have not been consolidated and reduced to match the declining number of lower level field employees. The Postal Service is so top heavy that it is in danger of toppling over, like an inverted pyramid. In fairness to the Postal Service, Headquarters and Area offices did go through a resizing a few years ago and a couple of Area Offices and District Offices have been consolidated but the effort stopped there. Basically, all functions in the Postal Service have experienced a significant decline in employee numbers with the noticeable exception of Headquarters staff. It’s time for the PMG to reduce, consolidate, eliminate and otherwise right size the executive ranks of the Postal Service to match the declines in craft, supervisor and manager ranks. It’s the right thing to do and its way overdue. How many layers of managers managing other managers does it take to run the Postal Service?