The U.S. government is one of the largest employers in the country, beat out only by Walmart. Even before factoring in postal workers, the U.S. government employs over 2 million people.
But is USPS a federal job? You might have heard conflicting responses, because the answer isn’t exactly straightforward.
I have done the research and come up with the answer you’re looking for!
Is USPS A Federal Job In 2023?
Technically, employees of the United States Postal Service are not federal employees. The USPS operates as an independent, self-governing agency under the executive branch and receives no taxpayer dollars for its operations. Employees receive federal benefits, but ultimately their employer is not the U.S. government.
You are probably wondering how that works! And whether it’s a good agency to work for, what those federal benefits are like, and even who makes the biggest salary at USPS. Well, keep reading, because I’m going to cover all you need to know.
Why Isn’t USPS A Federal Job?
There are quite a few sites that will tell you USPS employees are federal workers, but I have to disagree.
I’m basing my assertion on a recent incident that occurred, in which President Joe Biden announced that all federal employees would have to be vaccinated (or subject to weekly testing).
His executive order also required that all employers with over 100 employees would have to enforce a vaccine mandate.
The initial part of his announcement threw even USPS employees themselves into a state of confusion, no one was really sure if they counted as federal employees.
It’s easy to see why – they receive all the same benefits as federal employees and work for an agency under the executive branch (the same one as the president).
However, the Biden administration realized they needed to clarify, so later that day a spokesperson put out a statement:
USPS is not included in the executive order requiring vaccination of Federal employees. USPS has a separate statutory scheme and is traditionally independent of federal personnel actions like this.
(USPS employees were actually obligated under the executive order – but because USPS employees well over 100 people.)
Per the spokesperson’s statement, the “separate statutory scheme” is referring to USPS’s independent governance and separation from U.S. government employment.
Thus, USPS employees clearly are not technically considered federal employees, though the differentiation is obviously minute.
Is USPS A Good Job?
Even if USPS employees aren’t technically federal employees, working for the Postal Service is generally considered a very good gig.
The benefits are the same as federal employees, meaning generous health insurance, pension plans, fully covered life insurance, and sick and vacation time.
Further, hourly wages start well above minimum wage. (I’ll go more in-depth into the benefits under the heading below.)
And career employees make enough to support their entire family, like Edward Dyer, who has a family of five, with one kid in college.
But USPS employees earn every cent and benefit, especially the postal carriers. That particular job can be extremely physical, even dangerous.
What Are USPS Employee Benefits?
USPS employees receive the same benefits as federal employees, and they are impressive.
Here are some of the highlights (via USPS.com):
- Health Insurance: Most expenses covered by USPS
- Vision and Dental: Very affordable rates
- FSA: Can help cover out-of-pocket healthcare and daycare expenses
- Retirement: USPS employees receive federal retirement benefits, including a pension and disability coverage
- Social Security & Medicare
- Commuter Program
- Leave: 13 days of sick/vacation leave for first three years; 20 days after three years; 26 days after 15 years
- Generous wages and salaries, starting well above minimum wage, plus time and a half on holidays
- Student loan forgiveness
What Is The Best Job At USPS?
When it comes to entry-level jobs at the Post Office, some Redditors advise getting into an MHA, or mail handling assistant, position.
As r/User 3971 says, “Work inside, air conditioning, no irrational customers, no dogs, fewer supervisors.” But another commenter pointed out hours could be at night.
However, some people may enjoy the physicality of CCA (City Carrier Assistant), whose hours run during the daytime (more like a 9-5), or an RCA (Rural Carrier Associate).
According to ToughNickel.com, CCAs make more money, but they work harder and longer.
If you’re looking to get into the Postal Service for its excellent pay and benefits, these three positions are commonly hiring!
What Is The Starting Pay At USPS?
The average starting pay at USPS ranges between $18 and $21.
Because that’s just an average, some pay starts lower – more in the $15-16 range (which is common for both City Carriers and Rural Carriers in my area).
However low that may seem compared to some of the career salaries (the average is in the $70,000 range), it is still double the current national minimum wage.
Do USPS Employees Get Student Loan Forgiveness?
While they are not technically federal employees, USPS employees receive the same benefits, and that includes student loan forgiveness.
Student loan forgiveness by the government falls under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Employees can check to see if they are eligible at this page.
As you can see, it outlines the requirements, including an Income-Driven Repayment plan, having Direct Loans and being a full-time employee.
What Is The Highest Paying Job In The Post Office?
The highest-paid job at USPS is – no surprise – that of U.S. Postmaster General, which in 2016 netted a salary of $285,000 per year.
As it happens, that’s the second-highest paying job in the entire U.S. government, behind only the president! (The president makes around $400,000 per year.)
However, as of June 2020, mvorganizing.com guesses that the current U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, makes closer to $300,000 per year.
While USPS employees are not technically federal employees, due to the independent status of the Postal Service as a government agency, they receive all the same benefits.
Further, even entry-level USPS employees make well above the national minimum wage, and can go on to earn even more, while enjoying the excellent healthcare and generous time off.