The USPS completed its installation of 137 new package-sorting machines ahead of the holiday mailing and shipping season, meeting its goal of expanding its daily package-processing capacity to 60 million, it announced on Thursday.
In May, the Postal Service had said it expected to receive about 40 million packages on its busiest days during the peak season and said it would be ready to handle 50 million packages a day.
In yesterday's press release
about achieving its new capacity goal, it did not say how many packages it now expects during its busiest peak days, but it is hiring 8,000 fewer seasonal workers than it had announced just 3 weeks ago on October 28
when it said it was actively hiring an additional 28,000 seasonal employees ahead of the holiday season.
was on top of the news - it reported on a hearing before the Congressional House Oversight and Reform Committee that took place on Wednesday and noted that the Postmaster General had announced the change in seasonal hiring last week. "A spokesman said the workforce stabilization effort has made the higher number unnecessary," it reported.
Executives told lawmakers at Wednesday's hearing that the Postal Service was well positioned to deliver mail and packages during the peak holiday season this year, even as, in the words of Government Executive, it is falling short of some goals and significantly scaling back its staffing levels. Gov Exec also noted the 20,000 number was far lower than the 45,000 seasonal workers the USPS had sought to hire last year.
The publication also noted the USPS has less space to process packages, citing a report from the USPS Inspector General that accompanied Wednesday's Congressional hearing.
One key question that remains unanswered - is the USPS expecting fewer packages than it had expected this year? A lot has changed in a short period of time, including statements from postal customers like Amazon which cited an uncertain fourth quarter
due to macroeconomic challenges, and as layoffs hit the tech and ecommerce sectors.
Just like retailers and online merchants, the USPS and other shipping carriers must be ready for surges during the holiday season without knowing with great certainty how consumers spending might shift. Merchants are left reading the tea leaves, looking for signs of what lies ahead in the all-important peak season.