U.S. Postal Service Home to 3 of 10 Fastest-Shrinking Jobs

The postal service is expected to drastically reduce its number of employees.

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The Labor Department recently released one of its massive data dumps in the form of the Occupational Outlook Handbook – a listing of hundreds of jobs by wages, projected growth and projected openings. Yesterday Data Mine found that most of the fastest-growing jobs of the next decade will be in health care. Today we find that among the fastest-shrinking jobs, postal workers are disproportionately represented.

[READ: New Data: Want Job Security? Get Into Health Care]

The latest handbook lists 818 jobs, four of which are U.S. Postal Service-related jobs. Three of those (highlighted in dark blue in the chart below) are among the 10 occupations expected to post the fastest job losses from 2012 to 2022. The total number of postal clerks is expected to drop by nearly 32 percent by 2022, the number of mail sorters and processors is projected to fall by nearly 30 percent, and the number of mail carriers is expected to decline by nearly 27 percent. Meanwhile, the total number of U.S. jobs (highlighted in red) are expected to grow by nearly 11 percent.

(Danielle Kurtzleben/ USNWR; Source: U.S. Labor Department)

Source: U.S. Labor Department

The fourth postal occupation, postmasters and mail superintendents, fares little better. The Labor Department expects this group to shrink by 24 percent, making it the sixteenth-fastest-shrinking occupation.

Though it might be dispiriting, it's not much of a surprise. Postal employment has been declining since 1999, and the Postal Service has been financially troubled for years. The rise of email and electronic bill pay, not to mention a massive recession, and a 2006 congressional mandate that the service prepay its retiree health benefits all have helped to drive USPS profits down.

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Still, the post office has shown some signs of improvement. The USPS reported a $5 billion loss in its last fiscal year, which was an improvement over the prior year, when the post office lost nearly $16 billion.

While this all looks disastrous for anyone dreaming of delivering mail, it's important to note the postal service is still expected to hire...just not as fast as it loses workers. The Labor Department expects more than 100,000 mail carriers to be added over the next decade, plus around 25,000 employees in the other three categories.

(Danielle Kurtzleben/ USNWR; Source: U.S. Labor Department)

Source: U.S. Labor Department

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