Each week, billions of letters, bills, advertisements, and packages are delivered through all sorts of inclement weather, thanks to the Postal Service. Employing approximately 685,000 employees allows our postal system to deliver the mail in a timely and efficient manner. However, postal workers are charged with more than just the task of delivering mail to your door. They may process, sort, and provide customer service. They hold positions as clerks, mail carriers, mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators. While some sort incoming and outgoing mail within mail rooms throughout the United States, others deliver mail to urban and rural residences and businesses.
Handling the needs of customers, Postal Service clerks, also known as window clerks, sell stamps, money orders, postal stationery, and more in post offices. They are also responsible for determining postage and ensuring that packages are in satisfactory condition for mailing. Customers also seek the assistance of Postal Service clerks to register, certify and insure mail. Window clerks also assist customers in filing claims for damaged packages.
Postal Service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution at post offices and mail processing centers. These positions are also commonly referred to as mail handlers, distribution clerks, mail processors, or mail processing clerks. As mail is delivered to the mail room, these employees load and unload postal trucks and move mail around the processing center using forklifts and hand-pushed carts.
Once mail has been processed and sorted, Postal Service mail carriers deliver the mail to residences and businesses in urban and rural areas. Duties of city and rural carriers, however, are similar. Most travel established routes, delivering and collecting mail. Their job begins each day at the post office, as they arrange the mail in delivery sequence. Automated equipment reduces sorting time for carriers, allowing them to spend more time delivering the mail.
In addition to delivering and collecting mail, carriers collect money for postage-due and COD (cash-on-delivery) fees and obtain signed receipts for registered, certified, and insured mail. Following delivery of the mail, carriers return to the post office with mail gathered from homes and businesses, as well as receipts and money collected during the day.
In spite of the use of automated equipment, the work of mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators can still be physically demanding. In the mail room, workers may be required to move heavy sacks of mail and place packages and bundles into sacks and trays. Many of these employees work at night or on weekends, as most large post offices process mail around the clock, and the largest volume of mail is sorted during the evening and night shifts. These employees work under tight production deadlines and quotas.
Size and Scope of the Postal System
Each day, postal workers deliver mail to every home and business in the United States. Each American citizen has access to the postal service and pays the same postage regardless of where they live or work. Here are a few interesting facts:
1. More than 212 billion pieces of mail are processed and delivered every year
a. 700 million pieces of mail are processed and delivered each day
b. 29 million pieces of mail are processed and delivered per hour
c. 8,000 pieces of mail are processed and delivered per second
2. Mail is delivered to more than 300 million people at 148 million homes, businesses and PO boxes in every states, city and town, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
3. The United States Postal Service is the second-largest employer in the United States with nearly 685,000 career employees
4. The United States Postal Service handles 46 percent of the world’s card and letter mail volume – delivering to more addresses than any other post in the world
5. More than 832 million pieces of international mail was handled by the United States Postal Service in 2007
6. More than 2 billion pieces of mail are forwarded per year at no cost to the customer
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