BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Changing times have meant tougher times for the United States Postal Service. The state of the economy as well as the growth of e-mail has caused the workforce for the U.S.P.S. to drop more than 30 percent over the last 12 years. Now officials say the lack of people sending mail the old fashioned way could mean fewer part time workers will be needed for the holidays.
In 2000 the U.S. Postal Service employed about 800,000 people, which included clerks, carriers and mail handlers. At present day, there are now only about 540,000 workers working for the postal service nationwide. Officials say less mail has resulted in a leaner staff nationally and they expect that to also be the case during the holidays, when traditional mail service peaks.
The postal service typically hires up to hundreds of part time workers for the holiday season. These casual employees only work for about 90 days and on an hourly rate with no added benefits. Officials say most are hired on to work as postal clerks and mail handlers at major processing facilities around the nation. Yet this year, with less mail to sort, they expect the need for part time help won't be as great.
"When you couple that with the increase and improvements in mail processing technology. The ability of machinery and computers to read mail and to sort it automatically that further impacts our need for human workers," said Tom Rizzo, who is the spokesperson for the Northern New England Branch of the U.S. Postal Service.
Officials also say in sheer bulk traditional mail service has gone down for the postal service. In 2006 workers handled and shipped 213 billion pieces of mail. That number last year was down to 166 billion pieces, which is a drop of close to 25 percent.