The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is an institution. It is an essential service for most every American home and business, but it is not without its flaws. As a result of legislation that limited its spending abilities and services, the USPS has faced overwhelming financial struggles and has received its fair share of criticism. To compensate for some of these money woes, the USPS is now getting federal financial relief—but consumers will be interested to learn that this is not the only change in the pipeline. Read on to learn more about five price increases headed our way in July, as well as how the new reform bill could affect you.
The USPS will increase the prices of First-Class Mail by 6.5 percent.
The USPS filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on April 6 that it would be raising First-Class Mail prices by 6.5 percent. This includes the First-Class Mail Forever stamp, used for one-ounce letters, which will go up from 58 cents to 60 cents. Price changes are to take effect July 10, 2022 "if favorably reviewed by the PRC," a press release from the USPS states. On a positive note, if you've already purchased First-Class Mail Forever stamps at the 58-cent price, they do not expire, even when prices are raised, the USPS said.
In addition to standard letters, prices will also increase for metered one-ounce letters from 53 cents to 57 cents, for domestic postcards from 40 cents to 44 cents, and for international one-ounce letters from $1.30 to $1.40. The single-piece letter additional ounce price will also have a price increase from 20 cents to 24 cents. Earlier this month, the agency also introduced two new shipping fees, Nonstandard Fees and the Dimension Noncompliance Fee, which could incur surcharges ranging between $1.50 and $15.
First-Class Mail is used to send mail within one to five business days and small packages within one to three business days. According to the USPS website, this service offers "an affordable and easy way to send envelopes and lightweight packages."
Here is why prices are being increased.
Postmaster General Louis Dejoy was asked about the reasons for the price increase during an interview, to which he said, "Because we need money," Reuters reported. Even with pricing changes that were approved in 2021 and additional legislative changes, Dejoy said there is still a need to make cuts.
"I've still got $80, $90 billion to do and we have a lot of plans to keep that moving that forward. Now it's really about improving our service, reducing our cost from waste, investing in our facilities and employees and growing our business," Dejoy said.
The press release from the USPS stated it will also seek price adjustments for Special Service products, including Certified Mail, Post Office Box rental fees, Money Order fees, and cost of insurance when mailing items. Price adjustments are tied to inflation and "increased operating expenses," the USPS said, adding that price changes allow the service to "continue to provide the lowest letter-mail postage rates in the industrialized world and offer a great value in shipping."
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This coincides with President Joe Biden's signing of the Postal Service Reform Act.
Also on April 6, President Joe Biden signed the Postal Service Reform Act into law. This action was prompted by years of complaints about the slowdown in mail service and provides nearly $50 billion in relief, which is to be rolled out over the next 10 years, Reuters said. The law includes some of the measures that Dejoy proposed in a reform plan from March 2021, which aimed at avoiding predicted losses of $160 billion. According to a summary of the bill, the Postal service will no longer have to pay into future retiree health benefits, with retired employees now required to enroll in Medicare.
The agency has experienced service delays and even faced the possibility of running out of money, which is tied to certain rules and procedures it must follow. The agency relies on sales from stamps and package deliveries, according to CNN, and does not benefit from taxpayer funding. Congress requires the USPS to deliver to all homes in America, and the service is also required to have pricing approved by the PRC, unlike private services such as UPS and FedEx.
Here's how the reform bill could affect you and your mail.
As part of the bill, the USPS is required to set up an online dashboard where you will be able to track the time it takes to deliver letters and packages by zip code, Yahoo Finance reported. As the mail service has previously faced criticism and struggled with late deliveries, this offers more transparency in understanding how and when mail is delivered.
Addressing concerns about future elections and mail-in votes, experts say the new law is unlikely to affect the process. "This legislation is not going to affect that in any way, positively or negatively," Paul Steidler, a postal service expert at the Lexington Institute, told CNN. He added that election mail is actually a "very small fraction" of the total amount of mail the USPS is in charge of.