• Prices for advertising mail, periodicals and parcels also will rise about 2.1 percent.
• There will be a new three-month option for renting post office boxes to people who need them only for a short time.
• Delivery confirmation will be free on some parcel services, rather than costing extra.
A major financial problem for the post office has been the requirement, imposed in 2006, that it pay $5.5 billion annually into a fund designed to cover the medical benefits for retired employees in the future. No other agency has such a requirement.
While the post office is not part of the federal budget, the fund receiving the payment is; so it counts as income to the government, making the federal deficit appear $5.5 billion smaller. Because eliminating the payment would make the deficit seem bigger, there has been reluctance to drop it.
Still, both houses of Congress are working on legislation to address the Postal Service’s financial problems, though some members are also fighting the closing of local post offices and seeking ways to keep six-day delivery.