Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

Preparing for the 2021 Rate Increase

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 18, 2021 12:14:04 PM

On Sunday, January 24, 2021, the new US Postal Service (USPS) postage rates and rules go into effect. Mailers mailers have less than a week to complete their final preparations.

This may be the last increase under the ratemaking rules established under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006. Under the PAEA, the rates for Market Dominant products – First-Class Mail, USPS Marketing Mail, Periodicals, etc. – were limited by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

After completing their 10-year review, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) modified the ratemaking rules. On November 30, 2020, the PRC issued Order No. 5763 – Order Adopting Final Rules for the System of Regulating Rates and Classes for Market Dominant Products. Under the new system, the USPS will have additional rate authority to raise rates. The factors include a combination of delivery density and retirement-related expenses. The rules went into effect on January 15, 2021 and may be used by the USPS to raise rates above CPI.

There are currently four legal appeals on the PRC order, including one by the USPS. Industry advocates claim that the PRC overstepped its authority, while the USPS is appealing the narrow scope of the order. Until the courts issue a ruling, the order remains in effect.

The current USPS price list – Notice 123 – is available on Postal Explorer as either an HTML or PDF document. Until January 24, the new rates are available for download as either an Excel or PDF file. The Excel file has a tab for each rate class, complete with Zone and weight tables.

Even with the increase, postage rates are a great deal. The USPS retail rates for letter mail remain lower than our trading partners – including the countries that have privatized their posts. This is the current prices for one-ounce stamps (based on exchange rates in effect on January 17, 2020):

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postage Rates / Postal Regulatory Commission

Aggressive Address Management is Essential to Mailing Success

Posted by Mark Fallon on Oct 20, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Last month, the United States Postal Service (USPS) filed a notice in the Federal Register of their intent to update address standards for mailers. In addition to aligning the address database product cycle with other mailing products, the proposal calls for more frequent updating of mailing addresses. Effective July 1, 2021, the period for coding addresses for automation and carrier route mailings will be reduced from 90 days to 60 days before the mailing date.

This is a reasonable standard and should be embraced by business mailers.

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / address management

The Postal Service Isn't Broke; They Need a Bailout Anyway

Posted by Mark Fallon on Sep 7, 2020 4:00:48 PM

In my decades of working in the mailing industry, there’s never been as much public interest in the US Postal Service (USPS) as there is right now. I remember the headlines of 1970, but that’s because my father was a postal worker. I was just a kid and didn’t appreciate the situation.

50 years later, the situation is different. My business – and the businesses of my customers – are tied to the fate of the USPS. The pandemic has hit the mailing industry hard, with massive declines in volumes. News websites and social media are awash with stories about mounting losses and substantial delivery delays. The importance of vote-by-mail in the upcoming election has further politicized the situation.

The financial situation of the USPS is bad.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postal Reform / Vote by mail / Postmaster General

The Self-Inflicted Troubles of the Postmaster General

Posted by Mark Fallon on Aug 10, 2020 4:00:00 AM

It’s been eight weeks since Mr. Louis DeJoy began his service as the 75th Postmaster General (PMG) of the United States and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service (USPS). In that short period of time, he’s done something his recent predecessors could not – have the Congress and the Press shine a spotlight on the USPS.

However, the coverage is around 99.76% negative.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Leadership / Vote by mail / Postmaster General

Postmaster General DeJoy Should Know Silence Isn’t Golden

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jul 20, 2020 1:17:52 PM

Last month, Mr. Louis DeJoy began his service as the 75th Postmaster General (PMG) of the United States and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service (USPS). On his first day in office, PMG DeJoy released a video praising USPS employees and recognizing outgoing PMG Megan Brennan. It was an upbeat message that was received well by employees and customers alike.

There have been no public statements by PMG DeJoy since then. Just silence.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postage Rates / Leadership / Postal Regulatory Commission / Postmaster General

Postmasters General – Hail and Farewell

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jun 15, 2020 4:00:00 AM

On Monday, June 15, 2020, Mr. Louis DeJoy begins his service as the 75th Postmaster General (PMG) of the United States and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service (USPS). A retired executive in the logistics industry. Mr. DeJoy was the Chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, Inc., a contractor to the USPS for more than 25 years. The company received USPS Quality Supplier Awards from 1995 to 1998.

PMG DeJoy takes the helm at a precarious time. The USPS was already facing financial challenges before the pandemic, and the precipitous drop in mail volumes has increased operating losses. The Board of Governors has unanimously requested grants and loans totaling $84 billion from Congress. Calls for substantial legislative postal reform have grown louder.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postmaster General

Vote By Mail – Process Integrity and Visibility

Posted by Mark Fallon on May 4, 2020 4:30:00 AM

With the current pandemic, there’s been a renewed call for more states to offer voting by mail. Not as an exception to voting in person, but as the preferred method for elections. There are already five states that conduct elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. 21 other states allow voting by mail for certain elections. Expansion of voting by mail seems to be a natural progression.

Election authorities must take action to ensure integrity and visibility throughout the process. That includes a high-integrity production system for printing and mailing, plus using the US Postal Service (USPS) Informed Platform for mailing and receiving ballots.

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Mail Security / United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Quality Control / mail / Vote by mail

BREAKING: Congress and the Press Discover that the Postal Service is in Trouble!

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 20, 2020 5:00:00 AM

“All legislation, all government, all society is founded upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy; upon these everything is based...” – Henry Clay, American Statesman (1777-1852)

In late March, two members of Congress released a statement that unless immediate actions were taken, the US Postal Service (USPS) would run out of cash in June 2020. Their goal was to garner support for adding $25 billion in funding for the USPS as part of the CARES act.

When the stimulus bill was passed, it included provision to allow the USPS to borrow an additional $10 billion due to the COVID-19 crisis. Interestingly, the additional debt can only be used for operating expenses and not capital investments - like new delivery vehicles.

Since that vote, there’s been an explosion of articles and television interviews about the financial struggles of the USPS. It seems that every politician has suddenly developed a sincere concern for the future of the USPS and its ability to serve our country. Similarly, reporters, columnists and pundits are writing articles and delivering commentaries about the financial insolvency of the USPS.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postal Reform

The Journey to Innovation Begins at the 2020 National Postal Forum

Posted by Mark Fallon on Feb 24, 2020 9:46:12 AM

In less than 9 weeks, leaders in the mailing industry will be gathering at the National Postal Forum (NPF) – April 26-29, 2020 at the beautiful Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida.

The mailing industry continues to evolve, and mailing professionals need to stay informed to be successful. At the NPF, that knowledge may be gained in educational sessions, from the vendors in the exhibit hall, or from fellow professionals in the many networking opportunities. Different paths that all lead to success on the journey to innovation.

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United States Postal Service / Industry Vendors / National Postal Forum / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / NPF

The US Postal Service 5-Year Strategic Plan – Still No Plan

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 20, 2020 3:25:05 PM

Last April, during a House Oversight Committee hearing, Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) took Postmaster General (PMG) Brennan to task for not delivering a 10-year strategic plan to Congress that was promised to be handed over in January. A second delivery date was also missed. The congressman was not happy.

Representative Meadows had worked with his Democrat colleagues to draft bi-partisan postal reform bills. As he said, the PMG’s actions were turning an advocate into an adversary. At the end of the discussion, the Committee Chair, the late Representative Elijah Cummings, directed that the plan be delivered to the committee no later than July.

At that summer’s Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting, PMG Brennan was asked when the strategic plan would be published. The PMG said that the Oversight Committee had the plan, and that it would be released to the industry “in due time”.

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United States Postal Service / USPS / U.S. Postal Service / Postal Reform / Postage Rates / mail / Postal Regulatory Commission