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First-class stamp prices to rise as of Jan. 26

Postal Problems
WASHINGTON (AP) - Mailing a letter is about to get a little more expensive.

Regulators on Tuesday approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter in an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on after the 2008 economic downturn.

Many consumers won't feel the price increase immediately. Forever stamps, good for first-class postage whatever the rate, can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effective Jan. 26.

The higher rate will last no more than two years, allowing the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses. By a 2-1 vote, the independent Postal Regulatory Commission rejected a request to make the price hike permanent.

The higher cost "will last just long enough to recover the loss," Commission Chairman Ruth Y. Goldway said.

Bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates rise 6 percent, which is likely to draw significant consternation from the mail industry.

Its groups have opposed any price increase beyond the current 1.7 percent rate of inflation. They say charities using mass mailings and bookstores competing with online retailer Amazon will be among those who suffer. Greeting card companies also have criticized the plans.

The Postal Service is an independent agency that does not depend on tax money for its operations but is subject to congressional control. Under federal law, it can't raise prices more than the rate of inflation without approval from the commission.

The service says it lost $5 billion in the last fiscal year and has been trying to get Congress to pass legislation to help with its financial woes, including an end to Saturday mail delivery and reduced payments on retiree health benefits.

The figures through Sept. 30 were actually an improvement for the agency from a $15.9 billion loss in 2012.

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 regulators Tuesday stopped short of making the price increases permanent, saying the Postal Service had conflated losses it suffered as a result of Internet competition with business lost because of the Great Recession. They ordered the agency to develop a plan to phase out the higher rates once the lost revenue is recouped.

It's unclear if that would take rates for first-class postage back to 46 cents in 2016 or to a level somewhere in between that takes into account future inflation.

The new price of a postcard stamp, raised by a penny to 34 cents in November, also is effective next month.

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IMHENRY6TH December 28 2013 at 7:00 PM

postal service is lousy. why should we pay. take it out of the ones that work fior the postal government not us....... take so much out of there pay see how they like it

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Calvin December 28 2013 at 6:56 AM

There ya go everyone who just could'nt stand not gettig mail on Saturdays

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schettly December 28 2013 at 2:13 AM

I would like to know how the Postal Regulatory Commission KNOWS what the projected costs for FUTURE retirees is going to be????? The 5.8 BILLION they are demanding the postal service set aside for that purpose is VERY questionable in my mind??? Why is the Commission trying to bankrupt the postal system and what will happen to all that money they have collected so far??? Millions set aside I can see but BILLIONS???? No, Something isn't right with this retirement payment demand.

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estimatorone December 28 2013 at 2:05 AM

Frankly, the postal service is still the cheapest way to send a
letter, or even light packages. A letter will get across the country,
in two to four days (depending on where it is sent) for 44 cents.
Three day service for FedEx, or UPS, runs from $14 to $30
(depending on where it is sent), for overnight air service. It
could take up to 7 days, using FedEx/UPS ground and would
run from $2.00 to $6.00. Even if you doubled the cost of a
stamp, the postal service is still far less costly then their
competing counterparts. As to packages, except for the
difference in pricing, the same applies.

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CH Russell December 27 2013 at 11:38 PM

I still have a penny post card....saved it to show my grandchildren and great-grandchildren

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kaysfaith526 December 27 2013 at 11:33 PM

William, just wondered where you are getting your information that 85%of the revenue goes to the salaries and benefits of the employees? where can I find that information? And Mike Mortensen, where can I go to read about the postal service buying houses and flipping them? Very interesting information.....

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Gene December 27 2013 at 11:09 PM

Have Your Say...Marketing ingenuity at it's best! Want to sell more product by gosh raise the price and people will come a runnin'! The USPS is a bloated passé deal with too many over paid employees adept at mostly ineptness.

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William December 27 2013 at 10:20 PM

The post office is big business. If they were in the free market they would be bankrupt because of their failing infastructure and exceedingly high proportion of salary to revenue (85%) It's nonsense to even suggest that the bill which guarantees protection for their retired workers is to blame.

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2 replies to William's comment
kaysfaith526 December 27 2013 at 11:41 PM

where did you get your information William?...I'm interested in reading that.

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Paul December 30 2013 at 7:48 PM

Just another right wing nut making stories up, and then they can't even come up with the proof!

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hmadden December 27 2013 at 8:44 PM

"The higher rate will last no more than two years...". Right, and if you believe that, I've got this bridge in Brooklyn that might interest you.

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rufus December 27 2013 at 7:20 PM

sure is a lot of whining, crying, and, B S over .03 try one of the other companys getting someing across the country cheaper, if they can, use them, AND S T F U.

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2 replies to rufus's comment
klm59 December 27 2013 at 11:19 PM

rufus, you're completely correct.

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Paul December 30 2013 at 7:53 PM

And I second it you are correct!

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