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By Lisa Rein, The Washington Post
Posted: 01/27/14, 10:15 AM PST |

Postage rates on first-class letters and most other mail will rise Monday by 3 cents to help the financially ailing U.S. Postal Service recoup millions of dollars it lost during the economic downturn.

But the largest rate increase in 11 years will be in effect only for about 24 months, the time postal regulators determined it would take the Postal Service to recover recession-related losses.

The new prices will take effect despite legal challenges filed in federal court last week by the mail agency and the industry representing bulk mailers. Both were unhappy with the Postal Regulatory Commission’s Dec. 24 ruling authorizing the increase. The Postal Service is frustrated because the higher price is not permanent, and the mailers are unhappy because the price boost exceeds the rate of inflation at which postage costs have been capped for years.

The price of a first-class letter will jump to 49 cents, but the Postal Service is not printing new stamps to reflect the change. Instead, it will rely on its popular “Forever” stamps, which will now cost 49 cents instead of 46.

A new “Forever” stamp in honor of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, is scheduled to come out Friday. Another, featuring winter flowers, is due out Feb. 14.

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