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US Postal Service asks for record-high price hike on stamps

A brochure with information on the 'forever' stamp is displayed on a counter at a post office May 11, 2009 in San Francisco, California. The U.S. Post Office has proposed raising the price a first class postage stamp from 50 to 55 cents. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Stock up on 50 cent forever stamps while you still can: The U.S. Postal Service has proposed raising the price of a first class stamp from 50 to 55 cents — the largest price increase for stamps ever.

This move would beat the 1991 price hike that raised stamps from 25 cents to 29 cents.

Here's what you need to know

In addition to the rate hike for first-class stamps, the rate for Priority Mail would also rise by an average of 5.9 percent, while the cost for Priority Mail would rise 3.9 percent. The proposed changes were announced in a press release Wednesday.

So far, these changes have been proposed by only the USPS board of governors and have not yet been approved. All such price changes need to be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

These changes would likely go into effect on Jan. 27.

The price of a first-class stamp rose from 49 cents to 50 cents in January. That price increase was blamed on inflation.

While increases are fairly common, the USPS rarely decreases the price of stamps — though it has happened. In 2016 the price of a first-class stamp dropped from 49 to 47 cents. However, this was the first time since 1919, when the cost was lowered from 3 cents to 2 cents after it had been raised to increase revenue during World War I.

Under the new proposal, some postal costs would decrease. According to the press release, "The single-piece additional ounce price will be reduced to 15 cents, so a 2-ounce stamped letter, such as a typical wedding invitation, will cost less to mail, decreasing from 71 cents to 70 cents."

The Postal Service has been has been struggling with lost revenue for years now, caused in part by the advent of email and a drop off in letters being mailed. In 2017, it reported a net loss of $2.7 billion.

The U.S. Postal Service is an independent agency under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. It relies on revenue from postage and other sales, rather than tax dollars, in order to fund its day-to-day operations.

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