The Cost of a Stamp Will Jump 6 Percent

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The cost to mail a first-class letter will be 49 cents beginning Jan. 26. Here's why.

Now’s the time to stock up on Forever stamps. The cost to mail a first-class letter in the U.S. is rising to 49 cents beginning Jan. 26. That’s a 3-cent increase.

The sweet thing about Forever stamps is that you can buy them now at the lower rate and they’ll be good for mailing a letter whenever you get around to using them, no matter how much a new stamp costs then.

The price of a stamp was due to increase 1 cent next year because of inflation, says The Washington Post. At the request of the U.S. Postal Service, the Postal Regulatory Commission on Tuesday approved the extra 2 cents to allow the struggling Postal Service to recover $2.8 billion in losses attributed to the Great Recession. The 2-cent increase is supposed to be in effect for no more than two years, unless inflation allows it to stay.

By law, the price of a stamp can’t grow faster than inflation, unless the commission says otherwise.

Overall, that’s a 6 percent increase, the biggest in 11 years, the Post says.

The Postal Regulatory Commission also approved a 6 percent rate hike for bulk mail, periodicals and package service, says The Associated Press. A postcard will increase by a cent, to 34 cents.

People are bound to complain; businesses that depend on mass mailing have already done so. But I pity the poor post office. It seems that mail is a basic service that government should provide. Yet Congress years ago made the post office a self-supporting entity that’s still subject to congressional control. It’s supposed to operate like a business without the freedom to do so.

That’s further complicated by the fact that people don’t use mail like they used to. Why would we when we have email and online bill pay? AP says:

The post office has struggled for years with declining mail volume as a result of growing Internet use and a 2006 congressional requirement that it make annual $5.6 billion payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. It has defaulted on three of those payments.

The post office would like to eliminate Saturday mail delivery to cut costs, but Congress won’t go along.

What do you think of the rate increase? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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