U.S. Postal Rates Go Up a Penny

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U.S. postal rates go up a penny Monday. The number of letters being mailed is down, but costs are up, especially for gasoline.


As of today it will cost you a little bit more to send a message via snail mail. A first class stamp is now 42 cents. NPR's Wendy Kauffman has this report on how the new price figures into the finances of the U.S. Postal Service.

WENDY KAUFFMAN: More than one billion pieces of mail were handled by the postal service in the first quarter of the year. That's slightly less mail than last year. Still, postal revenue for the first three months of the year was up. But then so were costs, says Steve Kearney, vice president for pricing at the postal service.

Mr. STEVE KEARNEY (United States Postal Service): When the price of gas goes up one cent, it increases our expense by $8 million a year. So you can imagine how our expenses are being hurt by the price of gas.

KAUFFMAN: The postal service recorded the loss of more than $700 million for the quarter. Though Kearney says for the first six months of the fiscal year the independent government agency is breaking even. Beginning in 1970, the postal service was supposed to cover its costs without using tax dollars, and it's essentially done that. But in 2006, says Kearney, Congress went one step further.

Mr. KEARNEY: We're not told to break even, we're told to try to make a profit and be able to reinvest that profit back into the business like any normal business would do.

KAUFFMAN: So today the Postal Service is announcing new pricing for packages and first class mail. But customers who've been flocking to buy forever stamps, which covers first class postage forever, will be able to save a penny on every letter they send.

Wendy Kauffman, NPR News.

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