• Project Title:
  • Rural Carrier Labor Costs
  • Start Date:
  • Wednesday, September 19, 2018
  • Estimated Report Release Date:
  • March 2019

There are about 136,000 rural letter carriers and contract delivery suppliers serving thousands of families and businesses in rural and suburban areas covering millions of miles daily. Most recent statistics show that rural letter carriers delivered over 800 million letters and parcels over the past year.   

The mail volume mix rural letter carriers are delivering is changing. Letters and flats are decreasing while parcels are increasing. Over the last year parcel volume has increased by over 6 million parcels.

The increase in parcel volume may have prevented rural carriers from completing deliveries within the standard work day, resulting in late delivery and possible increases in overtime hours. 

We are conducting this audit to determine the impact of parcel delivery on rural carrier labor costs.

  • If you live in a rural area, has parcel delivery service improved or declined, and if so, why do you believe this is happening?   
  • What do you believe the Postal Service can do to improve its efficiency when delivering parcels in rural areas?
  • How has the increase in parcels or changes in the overall mail mix impacted rural carrier delivery services?
  • How has increased parcel volume impacted overtime and extra trips for rural carriers and contracted rural carriers?
     

Comments (35)

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  • anon

    I've been with the post office for 20 years and have seen it decline I all areas of service. The way our office is managed, if I was hired today I would quit. We report at 8:00 but lately the DPS does not arrive at our office till10:00-12-00. We are sent out to deliver packages, usually we average 20-30 miles on this trip. When DPS arrives we are called back to office and at this time we run our routes. When this tour is finished we are again sent out to do a hub trip again consisting of another 20-30 miles for maybe 2-6 packages. While I realize that priority packages have an expected delivery date, that is what it is 'EXPECTED'!!! We are not delivering 'PRIORITY EXPRESS'. I also do not understand why our office is not allowed to use RCAS for delivery of hub, hourly and mileage, it seems would be more economical. Today I delivered ' '1' priority package, it was a total 20 miles which equals 40 minutes and .74 per mile. My figure was roughly $29.00 in addition to the $6.70 they was paid by customer. If all offices are practicing these methods it shouldn't take too long for the Post Office to figure out why they lost almost $4 billion in debt this fiscal year.

    Nov 14, 2018
  • anon

    We live on a rural route. Our cluster mailbox (serves 14 families) is about 1/2 mile away from our home, on a wide, paved, private road that all14 families use for access. Some mail carriers will deliver packages to our home and some won't. It is a hassle to try to find the package for those who refuse to deliver to our home. I have to drive 15 miles to the Post Office, and they have to search for it. What is the point of paying for home delivery when we can't count on getting it? I block the USPS as the carrier every time I can, because of this. Infuriating!!

    Nov 14, 2018
  • anon

    Overworked and underpaid since Amazon. Getting tired of working over evaluation. They just expect too much of us for what we get paid! Customer service has gone out the window.

    Nov 12, 2018
  • anon

    The increased work load has me seriously considering quitting. The USPS is the worst employer I have ever had!!! I am a month and a half from being regular and I am asking myself is it worth it? Our 7 to 8 hour days are now 9 to 12 hour days without proper compensation as I am a 2nd tier RCA! Thanks for making a decent job something I dread now USPS!!!

    Nov 12, 2018
  • anon

    It is extremely difficult to safely do this job in our own personal vehicles, with increase in size and volume of the packages. We do not get adequately compensated for 2nd and 3 rd trips. The PO needs to provide postal vehicles. We are subsidizing the PO because WE DO NOT get payed for all the driveways that we go up, we only get payed to deliver to mail boxes. Why are we subsidizing THE PO for the additional miles ???

    Nov 12, 2018
  • anon

    I have worked as a rural carrier for 17 years and my body and mind are completely exausted! It seems that the postal system is downsizing all routes to a 43K that are condsidered overbeardened ( 47k and 48k routes). The problem is that after the routes were cut to 43 hours per week, the workload has not been effected! We are now working harder for less money! What happens is the territories that are taken from these routes are usually the low volume package and mail customers which doesn't make a dent in our workload! I can't tell a difference in the route that I have at all, just a difference in my paycheck. I have been forced to park my 2 door right hand drive Jeep inorder to buy a much larger 4 door Jeep inorder to hold all the extra parcels dropped off by UPS, Fed-ex, and all those wonderful Amazon parcels. We only get paid 20 seconds from sorting the parcels inside the office and 10 seconds for actually delivering these parcels! How does that make any common sense at all??? And to make matters worse, the drop off parcels are usually located at a residence that has a really bad driveway or a biting dog, somewhere that is not a favorable place for the other delivery drivers!!! I have looked as long as 30 min for a house that has no number and there box is located at one of those cluster boxed where there are a bunch of boxed lined up together, giving us no idea what-so-ever where the location of the home is located, and we are paid 10 seconds on a mail count for this! I once worked at a place where I came into contact with a truck driver for the USPS and he had recently quit. I asked him that since he quit, and his job wouldn't be jeopardized, if he could tell me the truth about these so called mailcounts that are always taked at the lightest volume time of the year, and that determines our salery until the next mailcount. I asked him if they hid mail from us during the count so that we wouldn't get credit for it during this crucial time, and bring it back out after the count. He said that what they did was rent vacant lots and park trailers filled with junk mail until after the count was over!!! I mentioned this to a supervisor and they said that they had seen photos of this action in progress! How are we to trust employers like this that will stoop so low as to discredit a mailcount that will affect our pay and livelihood???? With all of this going on, how in the world can we be expected to meet our route evaluations??? Enough said, think I will now figure out how I can escape this craziness with a little bit of sanity left in my poor, tired body.

    Nov 12, 2018
  • anon

    Rural carriers are not compensated for the increase in large parcels. The current evaluation system allows NINE seconds for parcel delivery regardless of size. A half mile trip to the residence and a trip to the door for nine seconds added to our evaluation. No additional compensation for mileage.

    Nov 12, 2018
  • anon

    I'm a rural carrier in a 6rte all rural office. I recently became a regular carrier because 4 of the 6 carriers were forced to retire early due to injury/exhaustion. All due to the pkg onslaught and inability to meet their unrealistic evaluations. At their last count in 2015 the routes averaged @35 parcels a day. This year the routes average in excess of 150 a day. With no increase in pay! The new regular carriers are all tier 2 pay scale. In other words they make far less than the retired carriers. Post office makes out on two fronts, they don't pay the carriers for the increased parcels and they pay the new carriers far less. Shame on management. The dirty secret: the tier 2 carriers @ step 12 will not make as much as the tier 1 carriers on step ONE! It is destroying morale! Management and the nrlca suck!

    Nov 11, 2018
  • anon

    Not sure where you're getting your info from, but you should get a new source: at 40 hours, a tier one carrier makes 46, 505 at step one; a tier two carrier makes 54, 162 at step 12. So not so much a "dirty secret" but more like incorrect information you're spreading.

    Nov 12, 2018
  • anon

    Karen, you are right and I am wrong. It takes a tier two regular 5 years to reach the bottom rung of the tier 1 pay schedule. Still a Fact that the po does not trumpet. It's patently unfair to those hired after 11/1/2010. Not my intention to spread false information. Appreciate the correction.

    Nov 13, 2018
  • anon

    My bad Karen. Not intentional. Was positive I had read/heard that figure. What I do know is that @ a 40k I make @ 39800 on tier 2. Carrier nxt to me makes 46500 a@ step 1 tier 1

    Nov 13, 2018
  • anon

    It's getting so bad - I am really starting to wonder if we can trust the postal service at all. Lost mail, mail improperly sorted, tracked mail not actually delivered! I signed up for Informed Delivery hoping that would help the issue. Nope! This is just so sad. There is a different person at the counter of our local post office every time I go. I think there needs to be better oversight, better training and far better consistency otherwise NO ONE will use the post office any more. I'm ready to shut down my PO Box if things don't improve soon. Why does this happen. It makes me so angry. My father, brother and ex-brother-in-law were all postal carriers. They took their jobs seriously, never faltered, were always that mail delivery person we all recall - through snow, sleet, rain, nothing stops the US Mail. Well, I didn't get mail one day, the next day both days were delivered at once. NOT COOL.

    Nov 08, 2018
  • anon

    We need to reopen processing center in Bloomington Indiana .Indianapolis cannot process the mail for everybody in a timely manner. Our start time is 8 a.m. the first truck doesn't get to our office until 8:10 or 8:15 if we are lucky . This is very irritating to set everyday and wait on a truck or a second truck and it is discouraging for new RCA's as well. At least 16 new hires have quit in the last year. It's embarrassing to run so late everyday it looks like it's the carrier's fault and it definitely is not . We desperately need our mail processed out of Bloomington to save on wait time.

    Nov 04, 2018
  • anon

    USPS failed to provide adequate equipment to accommodate the increase in parcel volume.

    Nov 03, 2018
  • anon

    I am a postmaster with 8 rural routes. Prior to the increase in parcels in summer the rurals had “undertone” this would balance out the heavy fall and holiday volumes as their counts were usually in spring when mail volume is lighter. This caused considerable carriers in danger of 2080/2240 . This causes increase overtime paid to rcas because their are not enough of them . Managers carrying mail takes from management of other carriers and clerks . Rural carriers get less than a minute a package and and aren’t allowed to drive down driveways or back up heir vehicle

    Oct 29, 2018
  • anon

    I am a rule customer have lived here for 35 years and have never had my mail thrown and dropped with the door my mailbox left open with two dresses being received no usually on my front porch what gives us new carrier I live at 30016

    Oct 26, 2018
  • anon

    The post office is spread too thin. They put too much demand on relief carriers. I ave witnessed relief carriers rushing to get back faster to pick up another route or go home. We are in the business of customer service. I don’t care if it takes me all day. I’m going to do my job right the first time.

    Oct 26, 2018
  • anon

    As an RCA I carry fewer than 30 days a year. The extra time for long farm driveways, waiting for people to answer doors or looking for a secure/dry place to leave packages (& leaving a delivery notice) can add time and distance. Sometimes that means returning to the post office to drop outgoing priority mail (to meet guaranteed delivery times) before completing the route which also adds time and distance.

    Oct 25, 2018
  • anon

    Our USPS parcel deliveries are fine. They don’t affect the time needed for delivery by our regular carrier. I’m sure that will change with the holiday season, but we will see. When our service is delayed it is because there are too few relief day carriers in our local post office. There simply are not enough relief carriers to deliver the mail in a timely manner when regulars are scheduled to be off.xrhij

    Oct 25, 2018
  • anon

    Here's some more for you to digest. Parcels take up more space on incoming trucks. Highway contracts to post offices are never reviewed to see if capacity of trucks is appropriate (you guys did an audit on this). Load plans, IOP's are non-existent. (you did many audits on this). Product getting to post offices late and not in proper order. usps management's only answer is to push back start time for carriers. Now carriers get back after dispatch. Just wait for the day light savings change. Carriers working in the dark must take more time because it is dark (no kidding). So... How about a REAL audit which shows that the totality of errors by management in all phases of operations have put all carriers in a detrimental and dangerous situation. You guys keep looking at trees and get lost in the forest. Fail to do this and you fail in the mission of the Inspector General Department. Not picking a fight with you but the folks at the end of the line are tired and worn out because they pick up the pieces from all the bad decisions and get the mail delivered. A little help from you would be appreciated.

    Oct 23, 2018
  • anon

    The large parcel volume is making it very difficult to maintain on-time delivery. Being a real carrier for 21 years, I have seen the postal delivery change from letter/flat mail and a few parcels, to letter/ flat mail and a huge volume of parcels. It was difficult when Speedy, UPS and Fed-Ex started dropping off parcels for us to provide the last few mile’s of delivery. Now with the Amazon parcels, it really is a crazy amount of work. I remember mail counts in the past allowing us 3 minutes for each parcel, the total amount of time for in-office and street time to handle the parcel. Now, with the time standards changed to 30 seconds to handle each parcel (in-office and street time totaled) we just aren’t given enough time to complete the task. Besides this, we are still paid a mileage rate for a mid-sized car. I have to use a larger vehicle than that to handle the parcels. I also have to drive down many more driveways; we are not paid mileage for any driveways. Thus, I am woefully underpaid in my mileage reimbursement. It’s really sad that I am not given enough time or money to do my job properly; I am donating my time and money in order to serve my customers.

    Oct 21, 2018
  • anon

    The postal service is making a killing off the backs of rural carriers. With the rural carrier evaluated pay system, the continual increase in packages is not reflected in their pay or hours of work. Proof is easy... You reported on the increased overtime hours of city carriers...You don't see that with rurals. Why? Because the postal service refuses to pay rurals on the simple theory..A fair day's work for a fair day's wage...Nothing new here..It;s the same old story.

    Oct 21, 2018
  • anon

    I am a regular rural carrier. Since my small office has begun receiving Amazon drops, I have been unable to meet the evaluated time for my route. Management says that this has not increased volume but it has. And all the packages are larger and require door delivery. I am working over 11 hours each day. I would be doing 12 hours but that isn’t allowed. My car was complete full of packages and I still had to try to find room for the mail. I think there should be a size limit on parcels. My customers all say they can’t believe that we are expected to handle packages now that used to be delivered in large box trucks. We recently had a severe rain event here causing flooding and road damage. I am only able to drive 15 mph on these dirt roads but no consideration is given for changing route conditions. I am being pressured to make my evaluated time in conditions which were not part of evaluation. I am putting in for MRA retirement because I am unable to physically continue this. I love my route and especially my customers but I and my vehicle are complete worn out. My customers are begging me not to leave but I see no end in sight so I am regretfully leaving as soon as possible.

    Oct 21, 2018
  • anon

    I am a rural carrier and we just started receiving Amazon packages a few weeks ago. In anticipation of this increased package load our post master changed our start time from 7:30 am to 7:45 am. In the last few years with the increased packages our start time has gone from 7:00 am to 7:45 am and we are not allowed to come in early on heavy package/mail days. Customers are not happy with the latter and latter delivery times and anticipating holiday shipping and day light saving time change, we are going to be out in the dark and that is an unnecessary safety issue. With the late truck arrival and the sorting to route issues our post master has, there is a solution. Our clerks, when allowed to clock in earlier and sort to routes, were able to have all our flats and DPS ready for us by 7:00 am and then clerks started sorting bulk letters leaving parcels till last while we were sorting our mail. We are not being paid for the increased package delivery and we only receive over time for the 2 week Christmas period. Mondays, after holidays, and the entire holiday season Nov. 1 thru Jan. 2nd, RCAs should be utilized on routes to run packages or partial delivery of route and earlier start times adjusted to mail, packages, and daylight savings time. We should reopen the closed processing plants, hire more processors, have earlier truck delivery and have more employees sorting to routes if unable to do so in a timely manner at present.

    Oct 20, 2018
  • anon

    I work as a full time rural carrier at the post office. My area is a rural route. It has been very hard to deliver all the extra parcels I get from amazon in my evaluated time. I work over my evaluated time every day by about 1 to 2 hours and I don't get paid for this. I do like my job and customers but its frustrating working late and then getting told I have to take off because of the 2080 rule and I would be in overtime. The parcels have really increased in volume and size they do not fit in the little LLV we have. I often have to make two trips because I can not fit them in the vehicle so that also takes extra time. You wouldn't believe the number of big boxes of dog food and cat litter I have delivered. A lot of my customers work and can not get to the store so its more convenient to order items online. It would be nice to be paid hourly and I could do a better job satisfying all the customers as I said I like my job and would like to be appreciated for it. In rural area you have to remember we even have some dirt roads and especially long driveways which safety first and I cant be driving like a maniac to meet the evaluated time and you cant just throw the parcels out of the vehicle you have to be careful how and where you place them. Someone really needs to look into the rural routes and consider how it has changed this is 2018 not 1990 prior to internet service. And update the vehicles I drive a 1988 yes that is 30 years old with not very good heat no AC no safety features no airbags all metal insides no padding and crowded when filled with mail and parcels to the roof.

    Oct 19, 2018
  • anon

    As a very small rural route the volume has been a great addition. However, I have also worked in a high volume office and it was a nightmare. Also, I am not being properly compensated for the extra 5-10 miles per day I put on my vehicle delivering these parcels. As an employee on an 85 mile/day route and not a contract worker, I should be reimbursed for every extra mile.

    Oct 19, 2018
  • anon

    The increase in package volume has had a terrible impact on the lives of so many rural carriers because postal management does not give you the time and resources to deliver these oversize and or heavy packages that are part of an mail route. There is so much that needs to be done about this its just unreal . I also am on an evaluated route and often can not run it in the evaluated time because the postal system still uses the same formula that was used in the 60s and 70s to get the evaluation figures and I just plain get robbed of time I should be getting paid for because of this and management will not do anything about. It's totally only about the numbers to management and customer service is not even a consideration anymore. There are some areas that are just so different than other areas and things have to be done different in some areas and take so much longer to do , to get those packages delivered to the customer . Instead of fixing these so very real issues one is lectured daily taking more of your valued time about some things that are just so minor campaired to this package issue. I'm telling you , management has totally lost it in so many ways.

    Oct 18, 2018
  • anon

    I can tell you from an HCR route carrier it has destroyed my pick up truck since last November and I didn't get paid for the extra trips at my mileage rate. That's $4459.20 in lost money. We were never given a raise in our contract for the massive extra work involved. Most of our customers can't believe we were bringing their packages. They thought the 'FREIGHT' was supposed to be delivered by UPS or FedEx. I'm fairly sure this comment will never be published.

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    Our office has all HCR's. Increase of time spent on packaging (either with delivering or second runs) has not shown on their contracts. They are working outside the hours of their contract by delivering Amazon packages early in the morning. Certainly USPS is benefiting greatly from this, but proportionately the HCR's are not seeing a benefit at all. And I agree with Mr. Hodge. HCR's are not only taking a hit on their vehicles, they are taking a hit on their time also.

    Oct 19, 2018
  • anon

    I will comment as a rural contract carrier. The increase in packages and the large size of what amazon dumps on us has far exceeded what our vehicles can hold. We do not have trucks like ups and have no other choice but to leave the largest ones at the P.O. for pickup. When I requested negotiations for getting a larger vehicle I was told the postmaster had to give me a form to submit. After multiple requests I still have not been given the form and therefore no negotiations. We are not given extra help over Christmas and no extra compensation to hire extra package help so once again many days thru the holidays we are leaving packages behind. Not good for carriers or customers

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    Rural letter carriers are on an evaluated pay system. We do not receive overtime pay unless we work more than 12 hours a day. The exception being from about the first Saturday in December til December 24th when we get paid actual time worked.

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    Fix the truck schedules of mail delivery to each office. Allow earlier start times for carriers. Allow rcas to help on heaviest days. Allow rca to pickup outgoing on heavy days.

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    I noticed when my regular mail person doesn't work I get like 50% of my packages I believe that they need to pay attention to what they are doing cause they are getting paid enough!

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    I live in a very rural area, population less than 800 in the off season. The town has two post offices with separate zip codes, one for Hague and one for Silver Bay, which is an area in Hague along the lake. The local mail carrier delivered in Hague, a contract worker in Silver Bay. The mail carrier was relocated to an area 1 1/2 hours away. She was kind, never missed work, looked in on the elderly and smiled at all. We are now suffering. The basic population is elderly and not involved in the "computer" era as much of the world is. In less than a month our mail is late, not picked up or delivered to the mailbox, a lot getting delivered to the wrong address and this includes parcels. An elderly person should not be forced to drive to the PO to send or receive mail. When a payment is being made for life, health, home or vehicle insurance, a bank loan or medical bills and must be postmarked by a certain date and the mail is not picked up on one particular day, who is at fault? It rests then on the person, not the local PO as it should. The claim was that the carrier was not getting an eight hour day in. If the two POs were made into one, which was touted about four years ago and never done, we would not be in this situation and the mail would still be delivered as it should be. Complaints to the local post office always get belittled and blame placed on offices in Albany. Calls to Albany get referred back to the local post office. There are many of us who support having a PO and shy away from doing business via computer, who enjoy getting the "written" letter from family or even the bills we must pay. Sure, we understand it is hard to get contracted persons for mail delivery, especially here in the north country where some of the roads are still dirt and in winter the roads are almost impassable. But the mail carriers we've had in the past have made it through and with a smile. The temps are almost nonexistent and grumbling at that. Why destroy a good vehicle if you aren't getting perks? And why is the USPS taking away our relied upon mail delivery in such a mean and uncaring manner? I would think the postmaster would make sure we get our mail, but is he/she supposed to be in the PO all day and then deliver in the night?? This town misses the mail delivery person and we know she would come back if the route was offered to her. But we cannot find the right person in control who would actually help and the PO is getting a real bad name in this area.

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    "If you live in a rural area, has parcel delivery service improved or declined, and if so, why do you believe this is happening? " It has declined so badly that I do not receive ANY packages any more. Which is a real hassle in the era of Amazon and home delivery. Because my mail is delivered to a cluster vs a mailbox at my home, they do not leave packages at my door like what would be standard if I lived in town. For a few years, I was getting service to my door in some cases but it has completely disappeared. "What do you believe the Postal Service can do to improve its efficiency when delivering parcels in rural areas?" Speaking personally: My 'mailbox' is in a cluster of mailboxes over a mile from my home. If the cluster were within half a mile of my home, they would deliver packages to my home. I'm in Maricopa county, AZ so I am not so remote that they can't have a mailbox within the half mile rule. In fact, there is a big cluster of mailboxes within 1/4 mile of my home but my mailbox is not part of that cluster, but rather a cluster a mile away from there. "How has the increase in parcels or changes in the overall mail mix impacted rural carrier delivery services?" I basically don't get packages from USPS. If I order something from a retailer and they send it USPS, it gets returned to the post office which is over 20 miles from my house. I categorically return any such package to the retailer for a refund. I refuse to go to that post office to pick things up, as it is 40 minutes of driving combined with a 20+ minute wait in line at the post office. I've mostly trained Amazon to not use USPS, as UPS and FedEx, et al, do deliver to my house. Other retailers besides Amazon tend to not have any flexibility, so they mostly get returned for refunds.

    Oct 12, 2018

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