Changing Careers: Mail Carriers - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Changing Careers: Mail Carriers

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BERLIN, Md. (WBOC) - People who work in the postal service do a job that provides a vital service. But the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the USPS to lose 79,000 workers nationwide between 2012 and 2022. That's 28 percent of the workforce.

If you have a piece of mail heading for downtown Berlin, it's likely James Tingle will be the one to deliver it for you.

"This is America's coolest small town," Tingle said. "I have been a city mail carrier in the town of Berlin...for just about 30 years."

He walks about seven miles every day on nice days and also in rain and snow, in heat and gloom.

"I've enjoyed every bit of it."

He has enjoyed the job and watched it change around him.

"Mail volume has dropped. Packages have picked up," he said. "You work with change. You work with change to become part of it."

The internet and technology play a huge role in that change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says declining first-class mail volume, increasing email and online bill pay, automated sorting and cluster mailboxes are among the many things that are leading to reduced employment at the USPS.

Interestingly, of the BLS top 20 fastest declining occupations, jobs connected to the mail are by far the best paying. All of their median wages are listed above $50,000 a year.

Few elected officials spend as much time thinking about the USPS's difficult outlook and how to reform the postal service than US Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware. He points out the postal system is built into the constitution.

"The key for the postal service to being profitable going forward is how does it use this legacy, this 200 year-old delivery system, to make money in the digital age," Sen. Carper said. "They're figuring it out. They're going to do it."

Tingle doesn't see mail carriers disappearing altogether. He says as long as people like to hold a physical item, someone will have to deliver it. But watching what's going on around him, Tingle is OK knowing that 'someone' will soon be someone else.

"It's been a great run," he said. "But, before things actually take place anymore in the world, I'm ready to make a change in my life to another career."

First there are a whole lot of deliveries for him left to make.

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