Stamp prices to go up 1 cent in January

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WASHINGTON — Mailing a letter will cost one cent more, or 47 cents, starting in January, under a proposal approved by the U.S. Postal Service’s regulator.

The Postal Regulatory Commission ruled Thursday that the agency can raise the price in keeping with the cost of inflation. Prices could go even higher as the commission is considering a postal service proposal to raise money.

The U.S. Postal Service had asked for a total price hike of another 3 three cents, which would ultimately make first-class mail stamps cost 49 cents.

The price of sending a postcard would remain the same, at 33 cents, although the postal service is seeking to hike rates to 34 cents as part of its broader rate hike request.

The one cent hike will kick in Jan. 26.

If the agency gets the green light for all its rate hikes, it will mean an extra $2 billion for the cash-strapped postal service.

The agency said last week it lost $5 billion in the latest fiscal year ending Sept. 30, far less than in recent years. In 2012, it reported a $16 billion loss.

Much of its cash problems stem from a congressional mandate to make annual $5 billion payments for future retiree health care benefits.

The requirement has been a major drag on the agency, which has exhausted a $15 billion loan from taxpayers to make up for shortfalls.

Declining mail volume continues to plague the postal agency. Some 2 billion fewer pieces of mail were sent in 2013 compared to 2012, thanks to another drop in first-class mail, the kind most consumers use to pay bills and send letters to Grandma.

This would be the second year in a row when the price of a a first-class mail stamp is going up by by 1 cent in January.

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  • SloCatch

    Think of the cost of tooling changes to produce all the thousands of sizes, patterns and colors of stamps, it is in the millions of dollars. Then, think of the millions spent in the management and distribution of all the different styles and colors of stamps. The money recovered from stamp collectors does not even come close to recovering the excessive cost. The US Post Office should concentrate efforts on efficient delivery of goods, not the look of the stamp. Their competitors invest in service, not appearance. This is the reason why the US Post Office is failing.

  • SloCatch

    How many people do you know use the free shipping boxes available at the Post Office or worse yet get them even delivered to your house free of charge for Christmas gift packaging and never utilize the Post Office to deliver them?

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