Postal Rates Scheduled To Rise—Again—In August
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is expected to increase postage rates for a second time this year. An earlier increase was implemented on January 24. Due to go into effect on August 29, the increases would affect First Class Mail letters, postcards and mailing services. First Class Package Service and Priority Mail are not impacted by this increase. The increase, first proposed by the USPS on May 28, received the approval of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Monday.
Among the changes is a three-cent increase in the price of a First-Class stamp from 55 cents to 58 cents. The Metered Mail rate for one-ounce, First-Class mail, purchased online through Stamps.com, will rise from 51 cents to 53 cents. The Flat/Large Envelope rate will go from $1 to $1.16, while the postcard rate will increase from 36 cents to 40 cents, and international letters and postcards will both go from $1.20 to $1.30. International flats will rise 20 cents to $2.60.
Certain domestic mail services would also see their rates go up in August. Certified mail would climb 15 cents, from $3.60 to $3.75, and Registered mail would go from a minimum of $12.90 to $13.75 and up.
Rates for Media mail—books, videotapes, DVDs, CDs, printed music and other sound recordings that weigh less than 70 pounds—will also increase an average of 11 percent. For example, a one-pound package would cost an additional 30 cents, up from $2.89 to $3.19, and a 10-pound package would cost an additional 93 cents, from $7.93 to $8.86.
Also this week, the PRC issued its opinion on a USPS proposal to revise the service standards for First-Class Mail and end-to-end Periodicals. While the law does not give the PRC authority to veto any of the USPS’ service changes and the Postal Service is not required to implement or take any further action with regard to the commission’s advisory opinion, the PRC’s findings read as skeptical. The USPS is seeking to increase service standards by up to two additional days for some categories of First-Class Mail and Periodicals mail. It states that the changes will improve service capabilities, achieve higher service standards and reduce mail transportation costs.
The PRC notes that the USPS’s proposal appears to target mail that consistently fails to meet service performance goals and has the greatest opportunity for improvement. However, it is concerned that the Postal Service did not conduct any operational or pilot testing of its proposed service standard changes. In addition, the PRC points out that the USPS’s estimated annual cost savings for the proposed service standard changes do not indicate much improvement, if any, to its current financial condition.