For career U.S. Postal Service employees, the last few years have brought an unrelenting wave of cutbacks. In its latest annual report, the agency furnishes some eye-opening numbers on how the downsizing has affected different segments of its workforce.
The overall career headcount declined by more than one-fifth from 2009 to 2013 (surely one of the sharpest drops in USPS history). But the ranks of clerks and nurses plummeted by one-third and the number of employees classified as “professional, administration and technical” fell almost as steeply. Virtually all of the cuts, it should be noted, were accomplished without reductions-in-force.
The one sector to grow during that time was headquarters staff (not counting field support), which increased a little more than 5 percent. FedLine asked the Postal Service earlier this month what might account for the increase; the agency’s explanation has been added below the table.
|Total career employees||623,128||491,017||-21.2|
|HQ–field support units||4,455||3,870||-13.1|
|Professional, administration, technical||6,460||4,375||-32.3|
|City delivery carriers||200,658||167,388||-16.6|
|Motor vehicle operators||8,113||6,598||-18.7|
|Rural delivery carriers–full-time||67,749||66,099||-2.4|
|Vehicle maintenance employees||5,252||5,033||-4.1|
|Building and equipment maintenance personnel||39,531||30,737||-22.5|
And here is the Postal Service’s explanation for the growth in headquarters’ workforce:
“The Postal Service reductions in career employees were equally felt across both management and craft ranks. While the specific headquarters number has increased slightly, it cannot be viewed in isolation. Efficient management is about effectively allocating resources, and throughout this period, we have eliminated, shifted, streamlined and consolidated work across various functions, including human resources, customer relations, operations and finance, and across various levels, including local, district, area and headquarters.
“For example, the centralization of HR transactional work from the local and district level to the HQ level through an HR shared service center resulted in cost savings and operational efficiencies. Additionally, we have in-sourced work once performed by contractors in the form of three call centers, which has improved our customer service. Steps have been taken within the management ranks as in the craft ranks to efficiently allocate resources and cut costs while maintaining the highest level of service and customer satisfaction.
“Based on our integrated management approach, the appropriate way to view these career reductions is to look at the headquarters, headquarters field support, inspection service, area offices, and professional administration and technical personnel in total, which has been reduced by 17% over this period. The second level of management, including postmaster/installation heads and supervisors/managers was reduced by 21% over this period. In total, the management ranks over this period had a 21% reduction, which is commensurate with overall craft reductions.”
[Updated on Jan. 21 to include the Postal Service’s explanation for the increase in headquarters employment.]