The United States Postal Service recently announced a planned adjustment of postage rates as of August 29, 2021, for the public and commercial mail users. For community newspapers using Periodicals mail to reach readers, the average rate increase will be nearly 9%. The First-Class Stamp will move from 55 to 58 cents.
The rate increase is part of a new USPS business plan that also includes a weakening of service standards for mail that is moving across the country.
The proposed new rates must be reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission. But the PRC has already granted USPS the authority to eliminate an inflation-based price cap on rates. It gave USPS a new set of parameters that allows it to charge more for mail that remains in the postal system while digital technology provides new competition for delivery of messages and advertising.
Brett Wesner, chair of National Newspaper Association and president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, said the rate announcement was grim news for community newspapers that have been fielding months of complaints that subscribers are not receiving their copies on time.
“Nothing about this scenario is good,” Wesner said. “These increases will require many newspapers to increase subscription prices to cover this new cost and readers will think we have lost our minds to charge more when USPS cannot get the paper to so many on time. But times are tough in our world. We have to pay these bills.
“The increase in the stamp cost will be felt most in a rural economy. People in small towns across America send checks through the mail to pay their bills. The stamp goes up and delivery goes down. I fear that just as economic hopes have started to rise for people returning to work, faith in the Postal Service’s ability to serve the nation will put a damper on commercial activity for many of us.
“At the same time,” Wesner said, “we have been warning our member newspapers for several years now that if Congress did not enact postal reform legislation, we would wind up exactly where we are today. It is not a recipe for success.”
Wesner said that NNA continued to support postal reform legislation and has endorsed the proposed Postal Service Reform Act of 2021, introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, and James Comer, R-Kentucky.