Closings, delays and early dismissals

Price of stamps goes up Sunday

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USPS stock photo

WASHINGTON — If you have letters or bills to mail, you might want to rush. Saturday is the last day when it will cost you 46 cents.

Starting Sunday, you’ll pay more — 49 cents.

The planned 3-cent hike is the largest increase in consumer postage prices in more than a decade for the U.S. Postal Service.

The price hike will affect millions, even though fewer Americans these days use snail mail to pay bills and keep in touch.

One way around it is buying Forever Stamps now and using them any time for first-class mail, the kind used by most consumers. Launched in 2007, Forever Stamps are always valid, no matter what people paid for them and even if prices go up in the future.

They are also very popular: In 2012, 21.8 billion Forever Stamps were sold, making up 84% of stamp sales. That same year, the U.S. Postal Service delivered 68.7 billion pieces of first-class mail.

Still, declining mail volume continues to plague the agency. Some 2 billion fewer pieces of mail were sent in 2013 compared with 2012.

But more people are using the post office to mail packages. In 2013, package volume rose 8%.

A year ago, the price of a first-class mail stamp went up by 1 cent in January.

On Sunday, the cost of mailing a post card will also go up to 34 cents, a 1-cent increase.

The price hike comes after the agency’s regulator gave the green light back in December to keep up with inflation and recoup losses incurred during the Great Recession, when people drastically pulled back on mail.

The Postal Regulatory Commission also said the Postal Service can’t allow the hike to last more than two years, or raise more than $2.8 billion. Does that mean prices will go back down in January 2016? Doubtful.

The price hike includes a one-cent increase to keep pace with inflation, which won’t change.

Also, the postal agency plans to appeal the decision limiting the price hike to two years and will argue for the increase to be permanent, said agency spokeswoman Katina Fields.

The postal service is also planning to ask permission for another round of 1-cent price hikes to keep up with inflation in 2015 and 2016.

The current rate hike brings a much-needed cash influx to the financially struggling postal service.

The agency said in November that it lost $5 billion in the latest fiscal year ending Sept. 30. That’s far less than recent years, but that’s on top of years of losses. The agency has exhausted a $15 billion loan from taxpayers to make up for shortfalls.

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

13 comments

  • Chucky1992

    I don’t even use the postal service much any more. They have priced themselves out of my budget. I think they need to quit running ads and reduce the postage substantially to make it more compeditive with electronic delivery services (email and bill pay). I’d resume using it for birthday cards and Christmas cards again. I only sent out 6 or 7 this past Christmas to reduce my holiday budget. I used to send out 60 – 70.

  • stantheman

    Protecting union members. Stop Saturday delivery. If any other company in this country was losing billions of dollars like the postal service, that company would have closed its doors long ago. Ignorant and uninformed people. Amazes me.

  • Max R. Pardon

    Tim, boycotting the govt. is not the way to go it could cost us more by the end of year and maybe leading into the next year. The trusty postal service is losing because of progress in technology, and we did not boycott the computer or the other mail service companies. So give the three cent increase opposed to donating to a fund that comes around all the time. What if the postage stamp cost (undetermined amount) in the 1800’s, would the billions lost in USPS have been reduced before the deficit grew and the customers did not. Give the mailman a break one month by helping the delivery times by going to the Postoffice branch. See if the $.53 is helpful. Like all deliveries from the post service has been! Thanks to my mail people keep up the good work and together it will be a earning like it should do.

    • Chucky1992

      I am sure to you that your comment makes sense. It makes no sense to me. I will say that times change and the USPS has continued to operate in the same way. It’s way past time for them to look at how the organization uses funds and figure out more progressive ways to serve their purpose. Increasing the costs of stamps will only serve to make more people avoid paying for the higher prices and thus cut their income from sales. No business can operate like that.

  • wekayzees

    Come on, it’s 49 cents. Like you said, you don’t send out that much mail, so is it really hurting you to pay 3 extra cents. If you can’t afford it, then don’t use them. With all of the other prices in our economy going up, of course this will go up. I was a little frustrated when I heard, but it’s understandable. I love to have this option to write a letter to loved ones that I cannot otherwise contact, or just that little something to show them that I care and I’m thinking about them. In this day and age, it’s difficult to keep in touch with people, and an ecard can never compare to receiving a card in the mail. There is something so much more personal about receiving that card or letter that you can hold on to and feel close to that person for a minute. And before you think oh this old lady is stuck in the past. I am 26 years old, and I am still a proud user of the US postal service (and no I don’t have family or friends that work there but I still support it). I hope that we continue to see it in our future, but if we ‘boycott’ like you guys are suggesting, then we will put them out of business. This leads to more stress of thousands of USPS workers being out of jobs. Do you think this will help our already struggling economy? I think I will just pay the 3 cents and avoid the drama. I hope you all consider this when thinking of ‘boycotting’.

  • seamonkey1974

    I would think they would be making more money today than say…20 years ago. Sure not as many people are mailing letters..but that wasn’t very much revenue anyway. Today…look at all the packages being mailed everyday…ebay, etsy, etc. I sell on both of these sites and ship packages every single day. More and more people order online every single day instead of going to the store.

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