First-class U.S. Postal Service stamps will increase in price on May 12, going up to 42 cents.
No, it’s not just your imagination — that is the second increase in about a year — the ninth since the millenium. First-class stamps went up 2 cents, to the current 41 cents, last May.
Postal Service officials are able to impose price increases more regularly, and with less oversight, because of a change in the law during 2006. Previously, a cumbersome process — during which customers had opportunities to question rate increase proposals and the Postal Service had to defend them — was used. Now, increases can be put into effect with just 45 days’ notice, as long as they are within the rate of inflation for the previous 12 months. Never mind that inflation in general may not reflect the Postal Service’s expenses.
And never mind that the new system does not provide the incentives for efficiency that existed in the past.
It may be time for Congress to revisit the issue, asking whether it has been made too easy for the Postal Service to put its stamp of approval on rate increases.