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Price of a postage stamp set to… decrease? Seriously?

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NEW YORK — For the first time in nearly 97 years, the price of a stamp is set to go down.

On April 10, a first-class stamp will cost 47 cents, down from its current 49-cent price.

The reduction is part of a pre-arranged agreement with Congress. The Post Office got to increase the price of stamps by 3 cents in 2014 to help it raise $4.6 billion in revenue. But the price hike was only set to last two years. (It gets to keep one cent of the increase to keep up with inflation).

The Post Office is practically begging Congress to let it keep stamps at 49 cents. It says rolling back prices to 47 cents will cost the already badly bleeding Post Office $2 billion a year.

“Removing the surcharge and reducing our prices is an irrational outcome considering the Postal Service’s precarious financial condition,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan in a prepared statement. “Our current pricing regime is unworkable and should be replaced with a system that provides greater pricing flexibility and better reflects the economic challenges facing the Postal Service.”

Congress has pegged stamp price increases to inflation, which has barely budged over the past decade.

The Post Office is still reeling from the Great Recession, when its sales fell by $7 billion in 2009 alone. The Postal Service says that package volume is way up over the past few years, but it’s “not nearly enough to offset the decline in revenues” from first-class mail.

Standard mail, such as first-class letters and postcards, make up 76% of the Postal Service’s sales — all of which have prices capped by Congress.

Postcard stamp prices will drop by a penny to 34 cents, and international stamps will cost $1.15, down from $1.20.

There’s hardly anyone alive who remembers the last time the price of a stamp fell. That was in July 1919, when first-class stamp prices dropped from 3 cents to 2 cents.

2 comments

  • Nana

    After all the complaints made by the United States Postal Service about not having money and possibly discontinue service on Saturday’s…now are going to drop the price of stamps. That make total sense.

  • eelojnil

    The price of postage should not be decreased. This will only serve to place an undue burden on the already financially troubled USPS; and, americans have had 2 years to get used to it.
    Also, it would be financially prudent for the US government to revisit the USPS’s terms of service. I mean, come on, is it absolutely necessary to have mail delivery on Saturday? Can the populace really not survive going 2 days per week without mail delivery? This, alone, would be a big $ saver for the USPS.
    They should also consider actually charging for all their products and services. During a recent trip to the US, I stopped in at a post office to pick up a box so I could send some things home. I got the size needed and stood in line at the counter. When it was my turn the clerk asked me what I’d like to do with the box in my possession. I replied, ‘pay for it’ so I can leave to pack the items I wished to mail. Imagine my shock when she told me the box was free. How can that be? The USPS had to pay for the box to be made and imprinted. Surely, at a bare minimum, that cost should be recuperated from the end user; and where’s the harm in actually making a small profit on it?
    A friend of mine in Ohio recently placed her mail “on hold” while we attended her Masters graduation ceremony in another state. I was, once again, shocked that the USPS was giving away yet another service. Believe it or not, there is a cost to providing that service.
    The USPS sinks further and further into debt each year, to the tune of $5 billion annually since 2012. As a department of the US government I imagine the shortfall adds to the national debt and perhaps even requires an income tax rate increase. How can US citizens afford this? In the long run, paying for all products and services offered by the USPS would lessen the hit on american wallets than having to pay higher taxes to help cover its deficit.
    Think about it. Seriously.

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