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The list: 5 facts about public servants

San Diego Letter Carrier Timothy Jefferson delivers mail
San Diego Letter Carrier Timothy Jefferson, one of the 644,000 civil servants employed by USPS, delivers mail recently.

To mark Public Service Recognition Week, which began May 6, here are five facts about USPS employees and the nation’s other civil servants.

1. USPS employs 644,000 public servants. The postal workforce includes approximately 166,000 letter carriers; 128,000 retail associates; 69,000 rural carriers; 31,000 building and equipment maintenance workers; 39,000 mail handlers; 8,000 motor vehicle operators; and 5,000 vehicle maintenance employees.

2. Most children in the United States are educated by public school teachers. Public school systems employed about 3.2 million full-time teachers last fall, meaning the nation’s student-to-teacher ratio was 16 to 1, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

3. Since 1960, more than 230,000 people have served as Peace Corps volunteers in 141 countries. The agency currently operates 61 posts in 65 countries, and more than 40 percent of its volunteers work in education.

4. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) operates one of the world’s largest health care systems. The VHA, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, provides training for most of the nation’s medical, nursing and allied health professionals. Roughly 60 percent of all medical residents obtain training at VA hospitals.

5. Federal workers have pioneered many products and services. To cite a few examples: A U.S. Department of Agriculture employee developed the barcode scanner that automatically computes retail purchases; a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created a deep-ocean tsunami detection system; and Defense Department researchers developed the networking system that led to the creation of the internet.

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