Postal Service Request to Raise First Class Stamp Price Rejected

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The U.S. Postal Service's attempt to raise the price of a first-class stamp to 46 cents from 44 cents was unanimously rejected today by an oversight board, which said the Postal Service failed to sufficiently quantify either the effect of the recession on operations or how much mail shipments would decline if rates were increased.

"The Postal Service's recent volume losses and multi-billion dollar shortfalls are recognized," the Washington D.C.-based Postal Regulatory Commission said in a statement. "However, Commission analysis confirms that the Postal Service's cash flow problem is not a result of the recession and would have occurred whether or not the recession took place."

The Postal Service said last month that its net loss for the quarter ended June 30 widened 46% from a year earlier to $3.5 billion as mail volume fell 1.7%. Mail volume has dropped about 20% in the past three years, according to the Postal Service.

Without the option of raising stamp prices, the Postal Service seeks

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allowances such as changing the frequency of mail delivery, closing unprofitable post offices and restructuring a $5.5 billion obligation related to employee retirement benefits, Postmaster General John E. Potter said in a statement today. Potter said he was "disappointed" with the Commission's decision.

The Postal Service last raised the price of a first-class stamp, from 42 cents, in May 2009.

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