Nearly 2,000 people have applied for U.S. Postal Service letter carrier jobs in Northern Ohio, and 400 of them are seeking positions in the Akron area.

Sunday night was the deadline to apply for the new “assistant city carrier” positions, which pay $15 an hour and have paid vacation days but no retirement benefits.

David Van Allen, a USPS regional spokesman, said there are roughly 950 openings across the agency’s Northern Ohio District in the job category.

“There’s plenty of applicants to choose from,” said Van Allen, who publicized the openings last week. “It’s a good response.”

The job openings come after an arbitration panel earlier this month resolved a deadlock between the USPS and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The resolution established the new job category, which is replacing the higher-paying classification of “transitional employees.”

Darrell Boyd, 40, of Cuyahoga Falls, is among the hundreds who applied.

“It would be more money [and] better opportunity for my family,” said Boyd, who works at a fast-food restaurant. “I’m a single dad.”

Boyd said Tuesday he already is signed up to take a written exam in Beachwood that will test his memorization skills, reading comprehension and writing ability.

Van Allen said the test is a critical part of the hiring process: “The better you test, the higher you are on the hiring list.”

He said it remains unclear how many workers in the transitional employees category will seek to move to the new classification. Some might choose to quit. That’s because the $15 hourly wage for the new job category is less than what they are earning. Additionally, transitional employees must pass the test to move into the new classification.

Van Allen said he did not know how many of the roughly 425 existing transitional workers in the district had applied for the lower-paying jobs.

The district covers roughly the top third geographic area of the state from Pennsylvania to Indiana.

Most of the openings are in the Cleveland and Akron areas.

There is no guarantee of full-time work and the new jobs are “non-career” positions. This means they are not eligible for retirement benefits. The workers will enjoy greater rights for advancement than employees had in the transitional category, however. The new workers would be eligible for health-care benefits after the first year, or as required by the new federal health-care law.

An applicant also must hold a valid state driver’s license, pass a pre-employment drug screening and “demonstrate and maintain” a safe driving record. Anyone who has been convicted of drunken driving and related offenses in the past five years would not be hired, the postal service said.

The hirings come as the financially strapped postal service is reducing its overall work force and making other cuts to reduce operating costs. The agency lost $15.9 billion last year. Van Allen has said retirements and normal attrition are helping to prompt openings.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.