With fewer people sending letters through the mail in recent years, the U.S. Postal Service is upping its rates on stamps starting Aug. 29.
It will be the second postage rate increase in 2021. The first increase went into effect in January.
The rate for First-Class Mail, a letter under 1 ounce, will increase $.03 from $.55 a stamp to $.58 a stamp. Each additional ounce will remain at $.20 per ounce.
First-Class Mail prices are increased by 6.8 percent to offset declining revenue due to First-Class Mail volume declines. In the past 10 years, mail volume has declined by 46 billion pieces, or 28 percent, and is continuing to decline, according to the US Postal Service.
Over the same period, First-Class Mail volume has dropped 32 percent, and single-piece First-Class Mail volume — including letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 47 percent.
“For the past 14 years, the Postal Service has had limited pricing authority to respond to changing market realities,” said Postmaster General and CEO Louis DeJoy. “As part of our 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence, the Postal Service and the Board of Governors are committed to judiciously implementing a rational pricing approach that helps enable us to remain viable and competitive and offer reliable postal services that are among the most affordable in the world.”
The increase will most certainly have an effect on smaller businesses and nonprofits that still use the mail to send out flyers and donation requests.
Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce vice president Pam Swain said the chamber does not send out “nearly as much mail” as it did in previous years.
“The small increases in the cost of sending through the years is why we don’t do much anymore,” she said Friday. “We have to send to so many members at once – almost 700 per mailing – that small increases make a big difference on our bottom line. We have converted most mailed pieces to email to save the money.”
Kurt Brummett, director of the Oxford-Lafayette County United Way said his organization has also gone to doing more electronic mailing over recent years.
“While we do quite a bit of mailings over the course of the year, we do not mail enough volume on a regular basis that the increase will cause a significant strain, although every little bit matters of course with a nonprofit such as ours that invests in our community so as to maximize the positive outcomes and benefits of the generous contributions we receive,” he said. “Quite honestly, the postage increases over the years have caused our organization to use electronic communications to a greater extent, especially as we try to operate in a very efficient and effective manner in order to best meet the growing needs within our community.”
Oxford resident Davii Jo Chinault said she still pays more of her bills the “old-fashioned way” but has been less than happy with the service as of late.
“The postal service has lost so many of my bill payments, I’ve had to pay late fees for their mistakes,” she said. “And now they’re going up (in price). There are reasons people don’t use them anymore.”
The rate increase only impacts “Market Dominant” products, which are mail services such as First Class Mail letters, postcards and mailing services. The USPS did not include package services such as First-Class Package Service or Priority Mail, which are known as “Competitive” products, in the August increase; however, packages could cost you more to send this holiday season.
The U.S. Postal Service filed a notice earlier this week with the Postal Regulatory Commission regarding a temporary price adjustment for key package products for the 2021 peak holiday season.
That means you can expect to pay anywhere from an extra $.25 to $5, depending on the size of the package and the distance it needs to travel this holiday season.
Pending favorable review by the PRC, the temporary rates would go into effect at 12 a.m., central time, on Oct. 3, and remain in place until 12 a.m., on Dec. 26.
The local Oxford postmaster did not return requests for comment.