nytimes – The postal service, facing significant losses, seeks to raise prices

Americans are expected to pay more to post a letter as part of a series of price hikes the Postal Service proposed on Friday as part of a plan to reverse $ 160 billion in expected operating losses during of the next decade.

According to the proposal, the price of a first-class stamp would increase for the first time since January 27, 2019, from 55 cents to 58 cents. A postcard would go from 36 cents to 40 cents and an international letter to $ 1.30 from $ 1.20.

The Postal Service said the changes would take effect on Aug. 29, if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The proposed changes are part of a 10-year plan recently unveiled by the besieged agency, which has been rocked by nationwide delivery delays and declining use of traditional mail.

The plan would also lengthen promised delivery times, reduce post office hours, consolidate locations, limit the use of planes to deliver mail, and relax the delivery standard for first-class mail to less than five days. in the continental United States from three days.

The Postal Service said its goal was to achieve financial stability and meet its target of 95% on-time delivery as it faces heavy financial losses and declining mail volume. In the past 10 years, mail volume has fallen by 46 billion pieces, or 28%, the agency said.

The agency, which is supposed to be self-sustaining, has lost $ 87 billion in the past 14 fiscal years and is expected to lose an additional $ 9.7 billion in fiscal 2021 alone.

The proposed rate increases came after the Postal Regulatory Commission announced new rules in November 2020 intended to give the agency more flexibility in setting mail prices.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump megadonator who has been criticized for his management of the agency, said in a statement that, for the past 14 years, the agency has had “limited pricing power to respond to changing market realities “.

The Postal Service and the Board of Governors “are committed to judiciously implementing a rational pricing approach that allows us to remain viable and competitive and to offer reliable postal services that are among the most affordable in the world,” said Mr. DeJoy.

Democrats have sharply criticized the 10-year plan. In March, President Nancy Pelosi of California pledged to advance an infrastructure bill “to ensure the Postal Service has the resources to serve the American people quickly and efficiently.”

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators also introduced a bill intended to address the agency’s financial woes.

The legislation would eliminate the requirement under a 2006 law that the Postal Service pre-funds its health benefits for retirees and integrate its health care with Medicare, which senators and the Postal Service say , could save the agency more than $ 40 billion over the next decade.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said in a statement that the legislation, along with Mr. DeJoy’s 10-year plan, could “help address the substantial losses in postal service over the past decade and ensure self-sufficient, high-quality postal service for all Americans. “

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