The following is a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS)
The only groups to show an increase: Headquarters, Rural Carriers, Bldg. and Equip. Maint.Personnel Vehicle Maintenance Personnel,Non-bargaining Temporary, and Motor Vehicle Operators
Headquarters – “persons who work in a variety of capacities at the two central offices of the U.S. Postal Service, which are located in Washington, DC, and Rosslyn, VA.” numbers stood at 2000 in the CRS report covering 1986 but at the end of FY 2010 it is now 2,937.
Clerks show the biggest decrease over 23 years. In the CRS report covering 1987 it showed clerks numbers at 296,360. At the end of FY 2010 clerks had decreased to 157,168.
City carriers show 240,295 in 2001 but now stand at 192,180.
Supervisors show a high of 43,801 in 1991 but at the end of FY 2010 numbers have dropped to 27,792.
Rural carriers Full-Time show a high of 66,344 in 2006 and not stand at 66,845 at the end of FY 2010. It is interesting to note in previous CRS covering 1986, Rural carrier numbers were 35, 938.
Postmasters went from a high of 27,352 in 1986 to 23, 111 as of FY 2010.
Here is the summary from the CRS report covering 1990-2010. The full report is below:
This report provides data from the past 20 years on the size of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s)
workforce, including the number of persons employed by USPS by employment categories and
the number of persons employed by USPS under time-limited contracts. It also analyzes the most
salient aspects of these employment data.
USPS employed 671,687 persons as of September 30, 2010 (FY2010). USPS’s workforce size
has dropped by 171,576 employees (20.3%) in the past 20 years, and USPS had 40,395 (6.0%)
fewer employees at the end of FY2010 than it did at the end of FY2009. Since 1990, the
career/non-career composition of the USPS’s workforce has also changed. The number of career
employees has declined 23.2%, and the number of non-career employees has increased 6.3%.
Facing financial problems, the USPS recently has instituted a hiring freeze, frozen the pay rate of
managers, and offered some employees early retirement options. In FY2010, USPS operated with
its smallest workforce in at least 20 years.
Between FY1990 and FY2010, the size of USPS’s workforce decreased 20.3%, from 843,263
employees to 671,687 employees (Table 1, Figure 1). Figures for the overall workforce during
this 20-year period, however, mask a rise in non-career employees in the 1990s and a decline in
career employees through the 2000s.
Career Employees vs. Non-Career Employees
The number of career employees decreased by 23.2% between 1990 and 2010, from 760,668 to
583,908. During that time period, non-career USPS employees increased by 6.3%, from 82,595 to
87,779 (Table 1). This increase masks a large growth of non-career employees during the 1990s,
up to 113,700 at the end of FY2000. Although 11 of the 19 career employee categories had fewer
employees in 2010 than in FY1990 (e.g., the number of postmasters/installation heads declined
by 14.4%),3 three of the five non-career employment categories had more employees than in
FY1990. The largest reduction in non-career employees was a 20,326 employee drop (75.8%) in
casuals, or temporary employees who do not receive full-time employee benefits (from 26,829
employees in FY1990 to 6,503 in FY2010).
Despite their decline, careerists have constituted the vast majority of USPS’s workforce during
the past two decades (Figure 1, Table 2). The percentage of USPS’s workforce consisting of
career employees declined from 90.2% to 86.9% between FY1990 and FY2010.
Although the size of each employment category has shifted over the past 20 years, three trends
are apparent. First, “rural” employment categories grew significantly. Full-time rural delivery
carriers rose 58.2%, from 42,252 in FY1990 to 66,845 in FY2010, and other rural carriers (rural
subs/RCA/RCR/AUX) increased 19.4%, from 43,373 to 51,801. In contrast, the number of city
delivery carriers has dropped 18.6%, from 236,081 to 192,180, between FY1990 and FY2010.
USPS has indicated that 60% to 70% of population growth occurred in rural areas for much of the
20-year period. In addition, total USPS mail volume increased in these areas through 2005,
leading to a greater need for delivery carriers in those areas.4
Second, three categories of USPS employees involved in the transportation of mail prior to its
delivery grew through the 1990s and early 2000s, and have returned to their FY1990 levels in
FY2010. The number of mail handlers, for example, was 51,123 in FY1990, 60,851 in FY2000
and 48,850 in FY2010. Motor vehicle operators numbered 7,308 in FY1990, 9,347 in FY2000,
and 7,413 in FY2010. Vehicle maintenance personnel, who play a supporting role in mail
transportation, totaled 4,874 in FY1990, 5,546 in FY2000, and 4,985 in FY2010.
Third, clerks, who staff the retail counters at post offices and manually sort mail, decreased
45.9% in the past two decades, from 290,380 to 157,168.