Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=225659
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Stock up on forever stamps while you can: Price to increase in January

by Christin Roby
Nov 6, 2013


STAMPS2
STAMPS
Stamps are on the rise … again.

On Jan. 26 the U.S. Postal Service will be increasing the price of stamps three cents to 49 cents per stamp.

“Three cents seems like a bit much,” Ramona Fenway, of Rogers Park, said. “I mean when will the price of stamps stop increasing?”

When asked that question, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Mark Reynolds laughed: “When will the price of anything stop increasing? We are trying to avoid becoming a burden on taxpayers.”

Until now, stamp prices have consistently risen with the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent since the postal service was formed in 1971. However, due to the financial condition of the postal service, congressional approval is needed for this price increase.

According to current legislation, only in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances can the postage price exceed the Consumer Price Index.

“The Postal Service, as it exists today, is financially unsustainable [and] burdened by an outdated and inflexible business model,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told a Senate committee in September.

Over the past two years the USPS has recorded nearly $20 billion in net losses and are projecting a loss of $6 billion this year. In recent months, the postal service has worked to lessen its losses by consolidating about 350 jobs and reducing delivery routes by nearly 22,000.

“Despite all efforts,” Reynolds said, “there still is more that has to be done.”

The proposed changes are expected to generate $2 billion in incremental annual revenue for the postal service. Along with price increases, Donahoe has outlined a five-year plan that, if fully implemented, would generate $20 billion in savings by 2017.

“Though it’s not a done deal,” Reynolds said, “I think we have a strong case for this this type of reform.”

One postal customer says the increase on stamp prices is pushing him away from the post office and towards automated options.

“It’s a bummer,” said Lincoln Square resident Jerrad Jones. “I really don’t use stamps anymore because the prices are always going up and it’s so much easier to pay bills online than at the post office.”

The last stamp increase was a penny on Jan. 27, 2013.

A Senate committee will meet next month to determine whether it will approve the bill allowing the postal service to make such an increase.