Postage Increase: Stamps Get Pricier

    January 1, 2014

I don’t think anyone thought they’d live to see the day when stamps were practically fifty cents each. The US Postal Service’s regulator approved price increases up to six percent on most mail. This would bring the cost of the stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents. What’s interesting is that the change was not approved permanently. This would make the anticipated revenue boost of $1.8 billion temporary at best. With the industry still feeling the effects of an economic downturn, not all were happy with this decision.

The Postal Service claims to have lost several billion dollars in revenue due to the recession. The Postal Regulatory Commission did not agree, citing the increase in electronic mail as a legitimate cause for the steady decrease in traditional mail services. As more people communicate online or go “paperless” in terms of receiving and paying for their bills, it stands to reason that there will be less of a need to use the US Postal Service.

The one cent increase to stamps will likely be permanent while the additional two cents will help make up some of the loss actually blamed on the recession. The price is expected to decrease afterwards.

Despite the proposed lack of permanence, the increase was negatively viewed by certain large businesses. Mary Berner, president of the Association of Magazine Media trade group in New York, was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying, “It will drive more customers away from using the Postal Service and will have ripple effects through our economy – hurting consumers, forcing layoffs, and impacting businesses.” While she doesn’t think that it will immediately drive the industry to an obsolete state, she feels strongly that this ruling, “will hasten it.”

As for the average person, the impact may actually not be felt all that strongly. As younger generations of Americans rely less and less on traditional “snail” mail and older consumers may mail out in bulk a few times a year, the expenses may not be felt as strongly as it would be if letter-mailing were still the primary method of communication.

Even so, the day may come where it costs a buck to put a stamp on an envelope. Sounds unreasonable but then, who once upon a time anticipated fifty cent postage?

Image via USPS Facebook