Postal Rate Hikes Approved

Postal rates are on track to increase next year after the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) this week granted its approval. New rates are scheduled to take effect Jan. 27, 2019.

The First-Class Forever Stamp will increase by 10 percent, from 50 cents to 55 cents. A Metered Letter will increase 6.4 percent, from 47 cents to 50 cents.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) had filed notice for the price adjustments on Oct. 10. On Tuesday, the PRC issued Orders 4875 (169 pages on market dominant products) and 4876 (184 pages on competitive products).

Mailing Services product prices will rise about 2.5 percent and most hikes for Shipping Services will vary by product. Priority Mail will increase almost 6 percent and Priority Mail Expenses would jump almost 4 percent.

The PRC received 34 formal comments as part of the process. Many commenters, specifically individual and small business mailers, opposed the proposed 5-cent increase in First Class stamps. “Several commenters state that a 10 percent increase in the price of Stamped Letters is unreasonable and will result in fewer stamps purchased,” according to Order 4875 on market dominant products.

The USPS also accepted comments until Oct. 22 on an amendment that would limit all Marketing Mail, regular or nonprofit, letter size or flat, to only paper-based or printed material. That would impact fundraising premiums as no merchandize or goods would be allowed regardless of their value. The current regulations allow any “mailable matter” weighing less than 16 ounces to be mailed as Marketing Mail.

The USPS filed a Federal Register notice in August but has said that it was not a notification of a change, rather a way to gain feedback from mailers on the proposal.

On Wednesday, the USPS Board of Governors reported its fiscal year results for the year ended September 30. Operating revenue was $70.6 billion, an increase of $1 billion, driven largely by an increase of $2 billion, or 10 percent, in shipping and packages, offsetting declines in First Class and Marketing Mail.

In 2018, First Class Mail declined by about 2.1 billion pieces, or 3.6 percent. Packages grew by 6.8 percent, or 394 million pieces. Overall volume was down 3.2 billion pieces for the year from 149.5 billion in 2017.