Way back when, a first-class stamp cost 3 cents. That's how much the price is going up next year - and critics say yet another increase is probably only a year or two away.
The independent Postal Rate Commission on Wednesday endorsed the increase from 29 cents to 32 cents for a stamp for a first-class letter. The Postal Service said it hopes the new rate can take effect "as early as possible in January."The increase is estimated to cost an extra 60 cents to 75 cents per month for the typical household.
Millions of unpriced stamps bearing the letter "G" - for Old Glory - have been printed and will be shipped to post offices nationwide to be sold at the new rate.
From the Depression to the Eisenhower era, the cost of mailing a first-class letter was 3 cents. The rate has risen steadily since the post office became a semi-independent agency in 1970 and Congress eliminated its tax subsidy.
The governing board of the Postal Service is expected to meet within two weeks to set an effective date for the new rates. It could reject the commission's ruling and ask for reconsideration, but that is unlikely, since the decision is close to the rates requested by the post office and the agency urgently needs increased income.
The commission also set a 20-cent postcard rate instead of the 21 cents proposed by the post office and stuck with the current 23-cent price for each extra ounce of a first-class item. The post office had wanted the extra ounces to cost a quarter each.
The price of a first-class stamp will increase from 29 cents to 32 in January. With the increase, the typical household will spend an extra 60 to 75 cents per month. The cost of mailing a letter:
March 1863 3 cents
Jan. 1995 32 cents
(Color Graph Included)