Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is Postal Compensation too Low? In Manning, ND It Is.

Arguments over what is a competitive wage for a Postal employee is a political hot potato.   A recent article in the Dickinson, ND Press indicates that determining when a wage level is too high or too low is a lot more complicated than the arguments in Washington about postal employee compensation might suggest.

Manning, ND is losing its Post Office.   Manning is an unincorporated community that is the county seat of Dunn County North Dakota.   The population of Manning is 74 and Dunn County has 3,536 residents in 2010.

The closing of the Manning Post Office illustrates one of the problems in determining whether compensation is too high or too low.   In Manning's case,  job opportunities in the community are sufficient to make a small town postmaster job unattractive at compensation levels that the Postal Service can afford (or maybe not afford) to pay.   The following except from Dickinson Press story is telling.

“Everyone is concerned about the post office closing,” USPS Manager of Post Office Operations Wanda Cleveland said. “We just don’t have anyone to run it.”

The current postmaster, Cheryl Borth, said that she has been looking for a replacement for over three years and is retiring June 30. She added that trying to fill the position at this point might be a lost cause.

“No one has applied for the position,” she said. “If we got someone to apply they would have to go through the proper two-week training and then work in the office for at least a year.”

Cleveland said the office would cease operation at noon on June 30.

Resident Curt Kralicak said that it would be nearly impossible to attract applicants with the wages being offered, adding that area fast-food restaurants offer more competitive wages. The position was advertised for $9.45 per hour.

Borth said she “lost hope early” about filling the position because of the low pay.

The story clearly shows the challenge of offering the same wage structure nationwide as well as making broad statements about Postal employs being overpaid.  North Dakota is experiencing an employment boom due to the energy industry and a Postmaster job in a small town may not be as attrctive as it was when the current postmaster took the position.    A different story may be found in rural West Virginia or Mississippi where job prospects are much more difficult.  


The loss of a Post Office in Manning will leave one Post Office in the county, in Kildeer, ND.  Kildeer is the largest town in the county with a population in 2010 of 751.  Kildeer is less than 10 miles away and also has the closest supermarket auto dealer and medical clinic.

Another Post office is in Dickinson, ND, around 23 miles away where retail services are available from United Parcel Service and self service Express boxes can be found for both FedEx and United Parcel Service. 

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