If you thought snail mail was a thing of the past, think again.
There were a few hard years — hiring freezes, rollbacks in post office hours — but the United States Postal Service is back from the brink, resuscitated by a ground swell in online shopping.
The USPS is poised to hire 500 letter carriers and mail sorters in Boston in the coming months and John Powers, district manager for greater Boston, said that’s just the beginning.
“What’s driving the need for hire? The package vine has grown significantly — we’re delivering seven days a week and when you combine that with the fact that our workforce is getting older, you see a lot of opportunity for jobs,” he said.
Over the last several years the USPS has seen a resurgence in need, thanks in large part to the success of e-commerce and companies like Amazon. In the last two years alone, Powers has added seven-day package delivery to his list of services and he said he is starting see the constraints of an aging workforce.
Online sales have grown by 14 to 16 percent every year since 2010 and now account for more than one-third of retail nationwide, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.
Following the recession in 2007 and 2008, the postal service stopped all career hiring. In the decade since the economic recovery began, the postal service saw a reduction of about 200,000 workers nationwide — without layoffs.
In the absence of new hires, Powers’ workers are all starting to age out together. Of the 13,000 employees in his district, which extends from Boston to Worcester to Cape Cod, about 4,300 are ripe for retirement.
“Roughly one-third of our current employees in the Greater-Boston area are eligible for retirement, so we have to be prepared,” Powers said.
And hiring has begun. Powers said he has an immediate need with the coming holiday season, but said he doesn’t expect hiring to stop at 500.
“I expect to be in hiring mode for the foreseeable future. I’m using the number of 500, but it’s just a round number for our immediate need,” he said.
The jobs start at $16.06 an hour, offer full-time work and come with ample opportunity for overtime, which brings in time-and-half pay. The jobs come with benefits and a “nice annuity” at the end of a 30-year career, Powers said.
Letter carriers need to be able to meet the physical requirements of lifting packages and walking around neighborhoods. A Massachusetts driver’s license that has been valid for at least one year is also a necessity, Powers said.
To apply, visit usps.com.