Postage rates are going up starting Sunday, but the changes mostly affect businesses. Mailing that recipe to Aunt Mary or birthday card to Uncle Joe won’t cost any extra. Among the changes, it will cost advertisers more to flood your mailbox with sales offers, and publishers will face higher charges to send you their magazines. There will be a variety of price changes for other mailing services, including advertising mail, periodicals and packages, which have complex sets of charges based on size, weight, distance, what percentage of a magazine is advertising and what percentage is editorial matter, and how much of the sorting is done in advance.
But the basic 44-cent first-class letter rate will stay the same, even though postage overall goes up about 1.7% as the price of many other mailings rises. The post office has been struggling financially as the Internet siphons off a lot of letters, bills and payments that used to be mailed. And that has been complicated by the nation’s economic slump, which reduced advertising mail. The agency lost $8.5 billion last year, and the rate increases—estimated to bring in an added $340 million this fiscal year—won’t much compensate for that loss. The Postal Service is limited to increases at or below the rate of inflation. A request to exceed that was rejected by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The post office, which is not subsidized by taxes, is appealing that ruling but in the meantime is instituting this increase.