Sending Mail Is Now More Expensive As USPS Hikes Prices
LA VERGNE, TN - NOVEMBER 04: Detail view of the USPS logo on a piece of priority mail packaging during a media tour of a United States Postal Service package support annex on November 4, 2021 in La Vergne, Tennessee.
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

A price increase from the United States Postal Service kicked in over the weekend.

The agency proposed raising the price of First-Class Mail Forever stamps from $0.58 to $0.60, a 3.4% price hike, in April 2022. An array of price increases mean that the cost of First-Class Mail is now 6.5% higher — lower than the current rate of inflation, according to the agency.

“As inflation and increased operating expenses continue, these price adjustments will help with the implementation of the Delivering for America plan, including a $40 billion investment in core Postal Service infrastructure over the next ten years,” the Postal Service said in a statement. “With the new prices, the Postal Service will continue to provide the lowest letter-mail postage rates in the industrialized world and offer a great value in shipping.”

The cost of every additional ounce for a letter rose from $0.20 to $0.24, while the cost of mailing domestic postcards rose from $0.40 to $0.44. The price for sending a one-ounce international letter rose from $1.30 to $1.40.

With more than 600,000 employees, the Postal Service is among the largest federal agencies, with only two private companies — Walmart and Amazon — employing more people, according to the Brookings Institution. Rather than receiving taxpayer dollars, the agency relies solely on revenue from stamps and other fees.

In March, the Postal Service confirmed with the American Postal Workers Union that it would hike pay by 1.3% for all employees, as well as provide a 1% additional increase for support employees and send a $1,310 cost of living allowance for career employees. As of May, however, real average hourly earnings declined 3% year-over-year as inflation continues to outpace wage growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rising fuel prices are a primary driver of high inflation in the United States. The price of gasoline has risen from $3.12 to $4.77 between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, with prices temporarily surpassing $5.00 per gallon in June. The Postal Service logged 1.2 billion miles of travel in 2021, according to the agency’s website.

As gas prices continued to rise in recent months, multiple White House officials — including President Joe Biden, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm — have argued that high costs for nonrenewable energy would accelerate a transition to green energy, especially as more Americans buy electric cars. However, after President Biden issued an executive order telling all federal agencies to convert to “clean and zero-emission vehicles” by 2035, the Postal Service decided to proceed with an $11.3 billion contract to replace its fleet primarily with gas-powered vehicles.

“As we have reiterated throughout this process, our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial condition,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement, per Forbes. “The men and women of the U.S. Postal Service have waited long enough for safer, cleaner vehicles.”

In a letter to DeJoy, EPA Associate Administrator Vicki Arroyo countered by saying that the agency’s vehicle plan will cost $900 million based on the current “social cost of carbon dioxide.”

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