Rise in Mail Volume and Postal Costs
President's Call for Postage Rate Increase
A postage rate increase that would produce $700 million in additional revenue on an annual basis was proposed by President Johnson, January 24, in his message to Congress on the budget for the fiscal year 1968. If approved by Congress, higher rates for all classes of mail except second class and bulk rate third class would go into effect at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 1967. The remaining increases would become effective on Jan. 1, 1968. Postal expenditures for fiscal 1968 are currently estimated at more than $6.6 billion.
A general rate increase is needed because the U. S. Post Office, which handles more than one-half of the world's mail, is faced with a familiar set of problems: Sharply rising costs, slowly rising revenue, mounting mail volume, and sometimes erratic service. Each of these problems is greater today than ever before. The Post Office Department appropriation for fiscal 1967 was $5.8 billion, yet the postal deficit is expected to reach a record $1.2 billion by June 30. Mail volume in the current fiscal year, originally estimated at 77.7 billion pieces, probably will mount to 80 billion pieces, or twice as many as were handled in 1948. The forecast for fiscal 1968 is 83.4 billion pieces, and that estimate also may prove conservative.
Although the flood of mail sets records every year, the Post Office Department has been slow to adopt new methods of coping with it. The powerful postal unions look with suspicion on efforts to introduce mail-handling machinery. Most of the country's post offices suffer from such handicaps as inadequate space, poor location, or inexperienced personnel. Moreover, the older big-city post offices were built to receive mail arriving by railroad, whereas trucks now are the principal interurban mail carriers. In these circumstances, postal officials assert, it is a wonder that mail service is as good as it is.