Cost of first-class letter to drop to 47¢ effective April 10
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
A rare drop in postal prices will become effective Sunday, April 10, but no new stamps are planned to mark the change.
That’s the word from United States Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders.
“We are not creating any stamps to support the price change,” Saunders told Linn’s March 14.
Instead, the Postal Service will continue to sell its current stocks of forever stamps at lower prices.
The effective day that letter prices drop to 47¢ from the current 49¢ was announced Feb. 25 by the Postal Service.
It will be only the third time that there has been “a general reduction in postage rates,” according to the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers.
The two other rate reductions came on July 1, 1885, when a 2¢ reduction in the price of a letter was ordered, and on July 1, 1919, when a World War I 1¢ “exigent” surcharge was removed, according to the alliance.
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(The July 1, 1885, drop resulted from the letter rate moving from 2¢ per ½ ounce to 2¢ per ounce.)
Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan had pleaded with Congress and the courts to continue a 4.3 percent emergency rate increase that had been ordered because of sharply falling mail volume and the 2008 recession.
But neither the courts nor lawmakers seemed sympathetic to intervening in the change, which Brennan said will cost the cash-hungry Postal Service $2 billion a year.
Brennan had agreed Jan. 12 to give mailers at least 45 days advance notice of the change.
In early February, the USPS gave notice of what the new rates would be.
As expected, the first-class letter rate will drop to 47¢, from 49¢.
The additional ounces of first-class letters will drop to 21¢, from 22¢.
International letters will drop to $1.15, from the current $1.20.
Postcards will fall from 35¢ to 34¢.
Prices for forever stamps will also decline on April 10.
In a press release confirming the change date, Brennan again argued that the reduction is not wise.
“The exigent surcharge granted to the Postal Service last year only partially alleviated our extreme multi-year revenue declines resulting from the Great Recession, which exceeded $7 billion in 2009 alone,” she stated.
The Postal Service’s “current pricing regime is unworkable and should be replaced,” Brennan said, citing continuing declines in first-class mail, which has traditionally supported the Postal Service’s operating costs.
Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer, has voiced concerns that word of the lower price would cause big mailers to defer mailings to secure lower postage rates.
Leaders of two large mailing groups told Linn’s that has not happened.
“Absolutely not,” said Gene del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce. “It’s a postal pipe dream.”
“Some might,” said Stephen M. Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of NonProfit Mailers.
But he said many mailers plan their mailings far in advance “and would find it hard to change mailing dates.”
Kearney also said the “USPS has tried to maximize uncertainty” over the price decrease “by repeatedly bringing up their congressional and court effort to make the above-inflation surcharge permanent.”
That has made it “more risky for mailers to fine tune mailing around an uncertain rate drop,” Kearney said.
Kearney, a former head of the USPS stamp program, told Linn’s after checking with several large nonprofit mailers that “almost none will be delaying mailings and most will be increasing mailings after April 10.”
This story was updated with new information March 17.
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