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Postal Service rate hike could mean 49-cent stamps

Postal Service rate could be going up again as the agency fights to curb its monetary woes. The proposed Postal Service rate would increase 3 cents to 49 cents for a first class stamp.

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US Postal Service letter carrier Jamesa Euler delivers mail in Atlanta in February. The financially struggling Postal Service is seeking a 3-cent increase in the cost of mailing a letter, bringing the postal service rate for a first-class stamp to 49 cents.

David Goldman/AP/File

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It soon could cost 49 cents to mail a letter.

The postal Board of Governors said Wednesday it wants to raise the Postal Service rate of a first-class stamp by 3 cents, citing the agency's "precarious financial condition" and the uncertain prospects for postal overhaul legislation in Congress.

"Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges," board chairman Mickey Barnett wrote customers.

The rate proposal must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. If the commission accepts it, the increase would become effective Jan. 26.

Under federal law the post office cannot raise its prices more than the rate of inflation unless it gets approval from the commission. In seeking the increase, Barnett cited "extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses" by the agency.

As part of the rate increase request, the cost for each additional ounce of first-class mail would increase a penny to 21 cents while the price of mailing a postcard would rise by a cent, to 34 cents. The cost to mail a letter to an international destination would jump 5 cents to $1.15.

Many consumers won't feel the increase immediately. Forever stamps bought before an increase still would cover first-class postage. The price of new forever stamps would be at the higher rate, if approved.

The Postal Service also said it would ask for adjustment to bulk mail and package rates in a filing with the commission Thursday. No details were immediately provided.

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