Washington (National Newspaper Association) — The annual increase in postage classes heavily used by newspapers has been revealed by the US Postal Service and it is relatively moderate, in line with inflation.
National Newspaper Association President Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, said he thought the overall increases in periodicals postage would be manageable even with other industry stresses in 2020. The average increase will be just under 1.5% for within county postage and about 1.9% for outside of county postage. Both of those rates are within the rate cap set by the Postal Regulatory Commission of 1.9%. The first-class stamp will remain at 55 cents, pending resolution in a court appeal from last year’s 5 cent increase.
The new rates will go into effect on Jan. 26, 2020, unless the PRC takes action to stop them.
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But NNA continues to stress to USPS that printers need incentives to lower the postal handling costs of containers of newspapers. The plastic sack is the most commonly-used container. Its price rises 6.8% at the carrier route/5 digit level when entered at the origin office, to $3.93. The sack was hit with a nearly 10 percent increase last year, as USPS tries to recover the increasing cost of mail handling. Unfortunately, white flats trays or tubs, which USPS says it prefers for efficient handling, are charged the same price as sacks, even though most experts believe the trays are less costly for USPS to handle.
“This conversation about flats trays has gone on with USPS for more than a decade now,” Adelman said. “We continue to urge publishers to use them, but we recognize that many printers think they take up too much room in the shop and in the delivery vehicle. With every possible efficiency —including good use of space—needed right now in our end of the business, we are urging USPS to recognize their preference for the trays with a pricing signal before we begin to see printers and publishers drift back to the sacks.
“Having said that, we appreciate the Postal Service’s recognition of the importance of keeping newspapers in the mail. Finding the newspaper in the mailbox enhances the value of the mailbox and that is good for readers and other users of the mail. People look forward to their paper and when it is late, we certainly hear about it. We and USPS both have work to do to shore up service performance. This labor, which never seems to be totally finished, will be much easier if newspaper mailers do not have to dramatically increase subscription prices just to get the newspaper to the readers,” he said.