Forever stamps are about to get more expensive — again – Marketplace

Forever stamps are about to get more expensive — again

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jun 4, 2024

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A Forever stamp will cost 73 cents starting July 14. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

​The U.S. Postal Service is hiking prices. Again. The price of a first-class Forever stamp is set to rise from 68 cents to 73 cents on July 14, a nearly 8% increase. This is on top of a stamp price increase just last January.

USPS couldn’t meet the deadline for our interview request, though postal officials have said they need the higher rates to keep up with inflation and try to meet expenses.

But this is a big burden for people who still depend on their local post office, argued Porter McConnell with the Save the Post Office Coalition.

“So it’s really a recipe for leaving rural America, retirees, people living with disabilities, Black and tribal communities behind,” she said.

People feel like they’re paying more for less reliable service, McConnell added. “People’s prescriptions have gone missing or important checks that they sent — even tax payments to the state have not gone through.”

Postage rates have also gone up for bulk mailers. Rates for things like circulars and periodicals have risen as much as 83% since the start of 2021, noted Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers. That’s been forcing some of his members to cut their mailings.

Kearney describes this as a death spiral for the Postal Service.

“They’re losing so much mail volume now because of the rate increases, they’re actually not getting a lot more revenue to cover all those costs,” he said.

The Postal Service’s regulator has to approve rate increases, and it decided to allow USPS to raise rates faster than inflation. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has also come up with a 10-year restructuring plan, which involves gradually moving mail sorting from local post offices to large transfer centers.

But the first few centers aren’t working very well, Kearney said. “Best example is in Atlanta, where the latest data I’ve seen shows that it’s taking over 11 days to deliver a first-class letter.”

You can’t expect these changes to go smoothly right away though, said David Marroni, an analyst at the Government Accountability Office. He understands why the Postal Service is raising rates.

“At the end of the day, the Postal Service does need to take action on the revenue side of its business, on the expense side of its business to get its house in order,” he said. “And stamp increases are one way to do that.”

Marroni added that it’s not clear yet whether the Postal Service reorganization plan will work; its goal is to break even by 2031. Marroni said he’ll be watching.