The winter holidays aren’t what they used to be. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah and other seasonal celebrations, store shelves usually could be found filled to the brim with holiday merchandise, but that’s a thing of the past with the supply chain facing some of the worst congestion it’s ever seen. People are shopping for their presents today, and it’s up to the supply chain to adjust to shifting consumer tendencies.
The U.S. Postal Service is doing just that, as it announced Wednesday that it would again be looking to hire tens of thousands of seasonal workers for a second consecutive year. Last holiday season, the Postal Service hired more than 50,000 workers to cope with peaking delivery volumes, and this year the agency plans on filling more than 40,000 positions, including city and rural mail carriers, mail handlers and drivers. Interested job seekers can visit usps.com/hiring to find and apply for local positions.
Even though average planned holiday spending per person declined by $50 from 2019 to 2020, falling from over $160 to under $120, the Postal Service struggled with gridlock last year, inundated with packages that it simply didn’t have the capacity to move. Of course, the government agency wasn’t the only carrier facing such issues. But as one of the three major U.S. delivery services alongside FedEx (NYSE: FDX) and UPS (NYSE: UPS), the Postal Service faced a greater burden to put gifts under the tree than most. That hasn’t changed, and the carrier is once again preparing to take on the holiday gauntlet.
As it stands, the Postal Service isn’t quite ready for the holiday season, and the agency knows it.
“Our entire organization is focused on delivering a successful holiday season. To make this happen, we need great people to join us to deliver for our local communities and our nation,” said CEO and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “The Postal Service offers many opportunities for seasonal employment. For many, a seasonal role can be the start of an exciting career with the Postal Service.”
To facilitate its efforts, the Postal Service is hosting 58 hiring fairs in cities across the country. A complete list can be found on the agency’s careers webpage. To attend one of the fairs, job seekers will need to preregister and follow social distancing and face mask guidelines.
The Postal Service is acquiring more than just human capacity. The agency says it has leased “millions of additional square feet” of mail and package sortation facilities and has installed new processing equipment that can cope with the seemingly endless supply of mail and packages around the holidays.
Already the agency is coping with extra handling costs due to heightened peak season demand. About a month ago it announced a temporary rate increase on several of its services to compensate for those losses, including for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. The Postal Service has also been dealing with a historically active hurricane season, highlighted by the devastating Hurricane Ida, and it’s only halfway over.
These factors and more mean that the Postal Service will contend with another boogeyman of a holiday season in 2021, and the need for additional manpower may be greater now than it’s ever been.