The post office seems likely to take the first steps this year toward raising stamp prices.
There’s been no announcement. Indeed, Postmaster General Marvin Runyon said last month that the agency’s 1996 profit “reinforces our commitment that there will be no general rate increase at least through 1997.”
On the face of it, that was good news for mailers. But the one-year promise was quite a change from Runyon’s speech earlier in the year in which he said: “We are going to do everything we can to keep stamp prices steady until the next century.”
And an internal postal memorandum says that, while Runyon does not want to raise rates next year, a decision will have to be made by this March.
In fact, the mailing industry expects the post office to apply this year for a rate increase to take effect in 1998.
Business Mailers Review suggests a filing for a rate increase might not come until October if the post office has strong profits in the first half of this year.
“It’s likely the service will propose a 35-cent stamp,” the review speculated.
And John Ward, postal vice president for marketing systems, has told an influential trade group that a filing for a rate increase seems likely in the latter half of this year.
Raising stamp prices isn’t as simple as printing new stamps. It is a complex process that can take nearly a year. And since that process isn’t yet under way, Runyon is safe in promising no increase in 1997.
Over the past quarter-century stamp prices have gone up about every three years. The last increase came after four years.