Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Where Have All the Good Times Gone? - The Perception of Postal Jobs is not What it Used to Be
By Mel Carriere
Greetings from the land where clouds are as rare as enlightened supervisors and the sunshine works a twelve hour shift without overtime or penalty pay. Actually we finally had a little rain here on Sunday to dampen down the dust from the Santa Ana winds that have been raging across the landscape this winter, so the ducks in the little pond you see here on my route are taking advantage of this temporary bonanza of dampness.
One thing that does not seem so sunny at all right now is the future of postal employment; or at least the public perception of postal employment. There was a time when double digit thousands would flock to the local testing site to arm wrestle over a few hundred jobs. When I started twenty years ago a postal job meant a decent, living wage that allowed a person to purchase a home and maintain a little slice of the middle class American dream.
To demonstrate how badly that postal dream is fizzling out before our eyes, I will relate the results of a poll I posted on one of my Hub Pages articles back in August of 2013. Entitled "CCA Survival," this has been my most popular article to date, generating approximately 11,000 views and dozens of comments. Based on the content of the comments section, the article is read mostly by those just starting out as CCAs or considering applying for or accepting a CCA position. Because the article does not flinch from exposing the harsh reality of postal employment, the poll results could have been skewed to the negative by the unforgiving attitude of the article's author (me), who didn't sugar coat anything. Nevertheless, even taking into consideration the seed of doubt I may have planted in the heads of these readers, the results are not encouraging. Here is a screen shot of my poll:
As you can see above, 696 people voted in this poll, and the little I still remember from my semester of college statistics tells me that this is a statistically significant sample size. Of these near 700 participants in the poll only 26% said that postal employment is still a promising career choice. That's only 181 people out of 696 who were certain that postal employment is a good thing.
I forget how much the starting wage was when I took the postal exam in the early 90s, but when I showed up to take the test at the Scottish Rites Center here in San Diego's Mission Valley there was a line of people waiting to enter the building that circled the parking lot. Only a tiny percentage of those taking the test got the job, and these people felt like they had won the lottery. If I was to post a poll asking whether or not you would like to win the lottery, I am pretty sure I would get a positive response rate higher than 26%, and there probably would not be 32% in the undecided category, as there was in my poll.
But that's what it has come down to. The value of postal wages has eroded because it has not kept pace with inflation, meaning that a postal job doesn't buy as much as it used to. I'm not blaming or pointing the finger at anyone other than the debilitating recession we are just starting to climb out of, and the postal robbers/raiders who kept fleecing us for 5 billion a year at a time when mail volume was plummeting.
These poll results also demonstrate a disturbing long-term trend in the American economy as a whole. A postal job starting at $15 an hour is still one of the best paying entry level jobs out there, and if only 26% of people polled think that is a pleasing prospect, what does that say about the job market in general? There aren't very many good unionized factory jobs anymore and the best the service sector can provide these days is $13 an hour managing the Panda Express around the corner from my house. The whole Reaganomics "trickle down" theory that started in the 80s has only led to the impoverishment of the American people as wages are reduced to starvation levels and good factory jobs are outsourced to Bangladesh.
The needle on the unemployment rate may be ticking upward, but what is the quality of that employment? If a once highly alluring postal job can only get you a 26% approval rating, what is the outlook for jobs in general in this country?
Just another bummer to add to your list when it's only Tuesday and there is still a long, grueling postal week ahead of us.
Read the article that this poll came from
The photo is mine, as if anyone else would want to claim it.
The Postal Tsunami is a powerful wave propelled by copious quantities of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap. I have nothing to do with ad selection here, but unless these ads completely annoy or offend you I would appreciate if you could check out what my sponsors to the right and down below have to say. Thanks for your support.