When you’re expecting Easter eggs and the bunny delivers rocks ...

May 1, 2022

President Joe Biden signed into law the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 on April 6 after a 15–year effort by postal supporters to complete a reform bill. Key sponsors were present for the signing: (Left to right) Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan; Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California; (partially obscured) Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina; Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland; Annette Taylor, a letter carrier from Maryland and Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky. [Photo courtesy of Sara Severens, D.C. press secretary/intern coordinator for Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-New York 12th)]

PENSACOLA, Florida — The Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 became law on April 6, the same day the U.S. Postal Service announced an 8.5% postage increase for Periodicals mail. For Within County mail, the average increase is 7.%.

The timing of the rate increase as it coincided with legislation designed to provide the U.S. Postal Service with financial relief was coincidental, driven by unexpected scheduling of the bill signing by the White House and USPS’ need to file for new rates to achieve a July 12 increase date. But it struck many in the industry as ironic.

“For hundreds of publishers who worked on this legislation for 15 years, it was like the Easter Bunny delivering a basket of rocks,” NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, said. “This legislation removed more than $50 billion in obligations from the Postal Service balance sheet, yet here was the basket full of requests for new revenue. But for those of us who follow USPS closely, the only surprise was the timing. This legislation, while welcome, took too long and let too much damage to the infrastructure occur while we waited. Meanwhile, USPS has shifted its expectations to grabbing maximum revenue to help it build out changes in its infrastructure. We were dismayed, but not surprised.”

The size of the proposed increase was driven largely by soaring inflation, which gives USPS a higher price cap. For Periodicals, an additional 2% increase is levied because the mail class has not covered its costs for more than a decade. The financial relief from the PSRA removed about .3% from the increase.

For a Within County newspaper entered at the delivery unit, USPS slightly increased the incentive for the DU entry by .2 cents. So a newspaper weighing 4 ounces entered at basic carrier rate in 2021 and earning the Full Service Intelligent Mail Barcode discount will see prices increase from 10.4 cents to 11.1 cents. Most of that increase comes from a higher carrier route piece rate, increasing from 7.6 cents to 8.5 cents.

“Within County is still a very attractive rate, and it is one that NNA works hard to protect,” Wesner said, “but the impact right now of any increase in this economy is unfortunate. Bear in mind that many of our newspapers are also heavy users of First-Class mail for billing and correspondence. At the same time the Periodicals rate rises, the stamp will go up to 60 cents.”

Postal Tips of this Pub Aux offers more detail on the complex Periodicals rates.