The U.S. Postal Service plans to hike the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp from 66 cents to 68 cents, saying the move is needed to balance the effects of inflation and to fund its overhaul plan to make the service less reliant on federal funding.
The announcement comes just a month after USPS said it would not levy an extra delivery surcharge during the winter peak this year, in an effort to compete with other parcel carriers and claim the ground of “the most affordable way to mail and ship this holiday season.”
The change would mean a roughly 2% price increase at USPS, which defines itself as a combination of both a business and a public service. In comparison, private corporations in the sector are hiking prices faster. UPS Inc. plans to boost its rates by an average net 5.9% starting December 26 for UPS Ground, UPS Air, and International services. And FedEx Corp. recently said it would raise prices an identical 5.9% on January 1, 2024, for its FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Home Delivery services.
If approved by USPS oversight committee the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the new price hike will take effect on January 21, 2024. In addition to the first class mail change, the Postal Service is also seeking price hikes for Special Services products including Certified Mail, Post Office Box rental fees, money order fees, and the cost to purchase insurance when mailing an item.
“As inflationary pressures on operating expenses continue and the effects of a previously defective pricing model are still being felt, these price adjustments are needed to provide the Postal Service with much needed revenue to achieve the financial stability sought by its Delivering for America 10-year plan,” USPS said in a release.
However, the consumer and business advocacy group Keep US Posted is asking the PRC to reject the proposed price increase, saying that each rate hike drives away more mail and puts USPS further in debt.
“These unprecedented postage hikes are giving Americans rate whiplash and compromising the Postal Service’s ability to deliver for America,” Keep US Posted Executive Director and former Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) said in a release. “While intended to raise revenue, the data shows that each new postage hike only drives more consumers and businesses away from using the mail. Mail volume is currently down nearly 9% year-over-year, after rate hikes took effect in January and July, and the proposed increase next January will only perpetuate these losses. Paper mail business keeps USPS afloat, and with every postage hike, more mail leaves the system forever,” Yoder said.
Editor's note: This article was revised on October 7 to add USPS' description of its roles as both a business and a public service.