U.S. Postal Service employees were unusually busy during late December, which apparently confirms projections that the agency's package business experienced dramatic growth during the holidays.
In the pay period from Dec. 13 to Dec. 26, overtime increased 15% over the same period last year, while total workhours were up more than 6%, according to a USPS report released this week.
The typical postal worker put in more than 8 hours of overtime per week during that period. For several groups of employees – notably mailhandlers, vehicle service drivers, and city carrier assistants – the average was more like 12 hours.
Initial reports suggest that U.S. e-commerce-related shipments were up 20% in the busy Black Friday-to-Christmas period versus 2014, with the USPS taking a larger share of the growing pie.
“Shipping and package” services still account for less than one-fourth of the USPS’s revenue. But rapid growth in those labor-intensive offerings, such as Priority Mail and Parcel Select, is shaking up an organization that had become accustomed to shrinking volumes and drastic workforce reductions.
During the last quarter of calendar year 2015, overtime was 9.5% higher than a year earlier, with total workhours up 2.6%.
The agency ended December with 652,000 employees – 11,000 more than it had a year ago – with the ranks of clerks and postal support employees (PSEs) seeing the biggest gains.