Are postal workers “putting off” retirement?

Update: Dead Tree Edition has modified their original story to acknowledge my comments. Sadly, they haven’t seen fit to actually correct the errors in their original post. The post now says that “PostalNews Blog has a different interpretation of the recent USPS employment statistics”. That’s incorrect- we’re not “interpreting” anything- we’re reporting the actual numbers. Those numbers show that the entire premise of the Dead Tree Edition article is wrong. That’s a fact- not an opinion or an “interpretation”.

Dead Tree Edition today suggests that all this talk about retirement incentives has caused postal workers to put off retirement in the hope of getting a big bonus:

Talk of early-retirement incentives for U.S. Postal Service employees may have temporarily backfired: Career employees of the U.S. Postal Service have apparently been retiring in record low numbers.

There’s just one problem with the Dead Tree article: the numbers don’t prove what the author claims they do. What the numbers actually show is that postal employees are retiring at just about the same rate this year as they did last year.

What skewed the numbers was Dead Tree’s use of “Full Time” numbers (as opposed to total career complement), combined with the one-time conversion of several thousand APWU PTFs to FT under the new contract last August. The “drop” in the full time attrition rate suddenly appears in the ORPES report for September, when the report shows a rate of 2.7%, compared with a rate of 4.5% the previous month.

The percentages are correct, but they don’t mean that the rate of retirements was suddenly cut in half. What they reflect is the fact that conversions resulted in the number of FT employees increasing by more than 5,000, at the same time that PTF numbers dropped by an even greater number. Meanwhile, the total career attrition rate stayed almost exactly the same- in fact it increased slightly!

The bottom line is that postal workers are retiring at just about the same rate they have been for some time now.

via Dead Tree Edition: Postal Workers Are Putting Off Retirement.