Postal rates going up Jan. 22, get your Forever stamps by Jan. 21

Caledonia Postmaster Carey Welder is pictured holding Forever stamps that can be purchased for 44 cents through Jan. 21. Photo by Charlie Warner

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

As of Sunday, Jan. 23 it will cost a penny more to mail letters to any location in the United States. According to the U.S. Postal Service, the increase is the first price change for first-class mail stamps (Forever stamps) in more than two and a half years.

The new 45 cents price for a Forever stamp is among price changes filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission this past fall.

The new single-piece first-class mail pricing, effective Jan. 22, 2012, includes:

• Letters (1 oz.) – 1 cent increase to 45 cents;

• Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents;

• Postcards – 3 cents increase to 32 cents;

• Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.) – 5 cents increase to 85 cents.

• Letters to other international destinations – 7 cents increase to $1.05.

Prices also will change for other mailing services, including standard mail, periodicals, package services and extra services. The increases will not affect express mail or priority mail prices.

“The price of our Forever stamps will remain at 44 cents through Jan. 21,” said Caledonia Postmaster Carey Welder. “After that date, they will increase to 45 cents.

“The largest increase is the three-cent jump in postcards,” Welder noted.

The postmaster went on to explain that while actual percentage price increases for various products and services varies, the overall average price increase across all mailing services is capped by law at 2.1 percent, the rate of inflation calculated based on the Consumer Price Index.

“We will not be receiving a raise, due to this increase,” Welder was quick to point out. “Many people asked about that. In fact, we have not received any cost of living increases in our salaries for the past three years.”

Welder also pointed out the Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Some history

The first stamp issue of the U.S. was offered for sale on July 1, 1847, in New York City, with Boston receiving stamps the following day and other cities thereafter.

There were two denominations,  a 5-cent red brown stamp depicting Benjamin Franklin (the first postmaster of the US), and a 10 cents value in black with George Washington.

The 5 cents stamp was for a letter weighing less than one ounce and traveling less than 300 miles. The 10 cents stamp was for deliveries to locations greater than 300 miles or twice the weight deliverable for the 5 cents stamp.

The post office had become so efficient by 1851 that Congress was able to reduce the common rate to 3 cents, which remained unchanged for over 30 years.

In 1883 the rate went to 4 cents for a letter and 4 cents for a one-ounce (or less) package. Two years later the rates dropped back down to 2 cents for a letter and for a one-ounce package. Prices  remained at that level until 1932 when a rate hike of 1 cent was ushered in.

The penny post card was introduced in 1928 and remained a penny post card for 24 years. In 1952 the cost doubled to 2 cents.

In 1958 first class mail went to 4 cents, as did a one-ounce package and the post card stamp was increased to 3 cents.

The following is a rundown of how postal rates have increased over the past 50 years. The first figure is for a letter, the second for the first ounce of a package, the next is for each additional ounce and the fourth is for a post card.
1963    .05   .05   .05   .04
1968    .08   .08   .08   .05
1971    .08   .08   .08   .06
1974    .10   .10   .09   .07
1975    .13   .13   .11   .09
1978    .15   .15   .13   .10
1981    .18   .18   .17   .12
1985    .22   .22   .17   .12
1988    .25   .25   .20   .15
1991    .29   .29   .23   .19
1995    .32   .32   .23   .20
1999    .33   .33   .22   .20
2001    .34   .34   .21   .20
2002    .37   .37   .23   .23
2006    .39   .39   .24   .24
2007    .41  1.13  .17   .26
2008    .41  1.17  .17   .27
2009    .44  1.22  .17   .28
2011    .44  1.72*        .29
*Up to three ounces

You can contact Charlie Warner at charlie.warner@ecm-inc.com

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