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Government & Politics

Cleveland Post Office Hiring More Staff, Working to Get Mail Backlog Moving

a photo of mailboxes
Samantha Gatesman
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Cleveland and Akron U.S. Postal Service processing locations have hired more than 500 employees since November to help meet demand.

If you were hoping to mail that last-minute gift in time for Christmas, it’s probably too late unless you plan to overnight it.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is trying to keep up with increased demand caused by the pandemic but it’s been a rough ride, especially through the holiday shopping season.

Local post offices are facing staffing shortages and increased mail volume as residents send out gifts and packages for the holidays, said USPS regional spokesperson Naddia Dhalai.

Cleveland and Akron processing plants have hired more than 500 employees since November to help meet demand, Dhalai said, including 70 new employees starting this week.

“It takes time to get people on board, but we are doing it as quickly as we can, and safely,” Dhalai said.

The USPS put out a statement last week reminding residents of deadlines for estimated Christmas delivery, including ground service, priority and first class mail. The dates have passed for all except select Priority Mail Express options, which is listed as Dec. 23. But USPS said it cannot guarantee Christmas delivery for those parcels at this point.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of pressure on USPS, Dhalai said, as people shift to mailing gifts rather than visiting in person. The pandemic also brought on increased online commerce, she said. Cleveland-area business owners have expressed concern about delays in shipping products to customers, especially when it comes to perishable items.

“There’s just a lot of mail in our system right now,” Dhalai said. “Our postal employees get sick too. They get impacted by COVID as well.”

Local post offices were already facing delays and difficulty processing parcels earlier this year due to changes put in place by the Trump administration, including decommissioning some sorting machines at Cleveland’s main post office.

The removal of those machines is not contributing to current delays in processing, Dhalai said. Local offices are doing everything in their power to sort through parcels, she said.

“We are utilizing everything we have: staff, employees, machines, everything, trucks,” Dhalai said. “We have everything in place, but we’re just behind a little and we’re catching up. We will get through this.”

More than 750 mail trucks come through Cleveland and Akron every day, Dhalai said.

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