There were 324,990 letter carriers in the U.S. in 2009, according to a May 2010 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These federal government employees sort and organize mail for their individual routes. They then deliver the mail using the most efficient routes. Some letter carriers work rural areas in trucks, while many in urban areas deliver mail mostly on foot. These workers must be at least 18 years old and in excellent physical shape. They usually get paid by the hour.
Median and Average Wages
- The median wage for all letter carriers in the U.S. was $25.90 an hour, or $53,860 per year, according to the May 2010 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average wage was slightly less, at $24.16 per hour or $50,250 per year. The middle half of letter carriers, between the 25th and 75th percentile, earned hourly rates between $22.17 and $26.26, or annual wages that ranged between $46,110 and $54,610.
Average Wages by State
- Letter carriers earned their highest wages in the District of Columbia at $25.35 per hour, or $52,720 per year. They also earned above-average rates in California, at $25.09 per hour or $52,190 per year, and in Massachusetts, at $24.94 an hour $51,870 per year. These government workers earned closer to average wages in Michigan, at $24.06 per hour or $50,040 per year. Those in Missouri earned slightly less, at $23.52 per hour or $48,930 per year.
Average Wages by Non-Metropolitan Area
- Letter carriers’ salaries can also vary regionally in more rural areas. For example, those in the Southwestern area of Wyoming earned the highest annual wages of rural carriers, at $25.26 per hour or $52,550 annually, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. The second highest rural hourly rates were in North Central Colorado, at $24.77 or $51,520 per year. Those in North Central Massachusetts earned wages closer to the national average, at $24.13 per hour or $50,190 per year. Postal carriers earned somewhat lower wages in the Eastern region of North Dakota, at $21.14 per hour or $43,970 annually.
- Letter carriers enjoy certain benefits from the United States Postal Service. Most full-time workers receive hospital and life insurance, retirement plans, and paid holidays and vacations. They usually earn time-and-a-half when working overtime, according to July 2011 data from the National Association of Letter Carriers. They also earn premium pay on holidays. Moreover, these mail workers receive 13 days of leave during their first three years of employment, according to the Postal Employee Network. Leave or sick days increase to 20 days after three years, and to 26 days after 15 years. Letter carriers also get tax-free flexible spending accounts for covering out-of-pocket health of day care services.
- Jobs for letter carriers are expected to decline 1 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to December 2009 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Automated machines have shortened the time these workers spend sorting mail, which will have a negative impact on jobs. Most job opportunities will be as a result of an increasing population.