January 2, 2016
Here we go again: Yet another government study has spurred news stories about how the U.S. Postal Service is on the verge of massive downsizing.
“The next decade isn’t expected to be kind to postal worker employment,” stated U.S. News & World Report recently, based on a new Bureau of Labor Statistics study. The postal workforce “is expected to contract by 165,000” from 2014 to 2024.
Reports like that don’t help the Postal Service’s efforts to recruit new employees. Many of the agency’s 100,000-plus annual new hires work long hours at low pay with no benefits in hopes of snagging a coveted career USPS position. That doesn’t sound like a very promising career path — if the BLS is correct.
But it looks as if the report is based on old data and outdated assumptions.
Contrast BLS’s prediction with a statement this week in USPS’s annual report to Congress: “The Postal Service increased the number of career employees by approximately 4,000 in FY2015, compared to the year before.” The number of non-career employees also rose slightly.
The growth trend is continuing in FY2016, which began Oct. 1. The postal workforce has risen about 2% — more than 12,000 employees – since a year ago. Postal officials aren’t planning any major job reductions this year and seem to have backed off of earlier plans to implement significant cuts in the coming years.
Still, 2024 is a long way off. And the Postal Service shed more than 280,000 workers from 2000 to 2013, so the kind of cuts predicted by the BLS are not unprecedented. So let’s take a look at why the agency is predicting that the postal workforce is about to shrink again….