U.S. Postal Service Plans to Raise Prices in 2012

The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday that it plans to raise stamp prices early next year, filing price changes with the Postal Regulatory Commission for the first time in 18 months.

The Postal Service, which reported third-quarter losses despite higher revenue from its shipping services, has seen declining mail volume as consumers rely more on electronic communications.

First-class letters weighing 1 ounce or less will cost 45 cents, a 1-cent increase, when the price change goes into effect Jan. 22. The price for additional ounces will remain unchanged at 20 cents.

The cost to send letters to international destinations other than Canada or Mexico will be $1.05, the largest price increase at 7 cents. Letters going to Canada or Mexico will cost 85 cents, a 5-cent increase, and postcard prices will increase 3 cents to 32 cents each.

The Postal Service also said prices for standard mail, periodicals, packages and other services will change, and Tuesday’s announcement does not pertain to express and priority mail prices.

"The overall average price increase is small and is needed to help address our current financial crisis," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement. "We continue to take actions within our control to increase revenue in other ways and to aggressively cut costs. To return to sound financial footing we urgently need enactment of comprehensive, long-term legislation to provide the Postal Service with a more flexible business model."

The price increases are an indication that the Postal Service continues to pursue additional sources of revenue. The Postal Service warned in August that without significant changes, it could experience a cash shortfall and default on payments to the federal government. Recent proposals by the Postal Service call for significant layoffs and an end to Saturday mail delivery in order to reduce operating costs.