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Postal rates increase effective Jan. 8
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[Image]
The 39-cent non-denominated first-class definitive stamp features an image of the Statue of Liberty and the American flag
[Image]
The Navajo Jewelry two-cent stamp is a reprint from 2004.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As of Sunday, Jan. 8, first-class postage stamps cost 39-cents and it costs 24 cents to mail a postcard.

Most postal rates and fees increased by about 5.4 percent across-the-board as of Jan. 8.

Rate increases for postal services, effective Jan. 8, include:

First-Class Letter (1 oz.) - current: $37 cents; after Jan. 8: $39 cents

First-Class Letter (2 oz.) - current: $60 cents; after Jan. 8: 63 cents

Postcard - current: 23 cents; after Jan. 8: 24 cents

Priority Mail (1 lb.): $3.85; after Jan. 8: $4.05

Express Mail (.5 lb): $13.65; after Jan. 8: $14.40

Express Mail (2 lb): $17.85; after Jan. 8: $18.80

Fee and service changes include:

Certified Mail: current: $2.30; after Jan. 8: $2.40

Delivery confirmation (Priority) - current: 45 cents; after Jan. 8: 50 cents

Delivery confirmation (First Class Parcels) - current: 55 cents; after Jan. 8: 60 cents

Return receipt (original signature) - current: $1.75; after Jan. 8: $1.85

Return receipt (electronic) - current: $1.30; after Jan. 8: $1.35

Money Orders (up to $500) - current: 90 cents; after Jan. 8: 95 cents

The new 39-cent stamps, as well as 2-cent stamps, have been available at the post office since Dec. 8. Customers also can order stamps by calling (800) STAMP24 or visiting www.usps.com.

The 39-cent non-denominated first-class definitive stamp features an image of the Statue of Liberty and the American flag. A reprint of the two-cent definitive issued in 2004, the Navajo Jewelry two-cent stamp features a painted detail of Navajo silver and turquoise necklace with sand-cast "squash blossoms" set with polished blue turquoise nuggets.

USPS ends 2005 in good financial standing

The U.S. Postal Service reported it concluded fiscal 2005 with a net income of $1.4 billion on record revenues of $70 billion and record volume of 212 billion pieces of mail.

"Financially, we are in the best position we've been since the 1970s," said Postmaster General John E. Potter at the December meeting of the Board of Governors. "Despite the strong financial and productivity records of recent years, we are facing a modest increase in postage rates in January."

The Jan. 8 rate increase was made necessary by legislation enacted in 2003 requiring the Postal Service to put aside more than $3 billion each year into escrow beginning in 2006, according to the USPS. Efforts to change the escrow requirement stalled in Congress. Without the escrow requirement, postage rates most likely would have remained at current levels until 2007.

Postage rates have remained stable since 2002, a direct result of three straight years of operating surpluses. The cash generated from the surpluses have been used to reduce the Postal Service's once $11 billion in debt to zero.

"We kept our focus on the customer for the past four years," said Potter. "It has paid off in record revenues, record volumes and positive customer satisfaction ratings."

In 2005, mail volume increased 5.6 billion pieces to 212 billion. Standard Mail, which American businesses rely on to reach consumers, outpaced First-Class Mail for the first time in history with 101 billion pieces of Standard Mail compared to 98 billion in First-Class Mail. First-Class Mail grew slightly in 2005 after three years of decline.

"The increase in mail volume demonstrates that American businesses recognize that hard copy mail works and has a bright future," said Potter.

Although today's postal financial news is positive, Potter cautioned that the forecast for 2006 projects a surplus from operations, but coupled with an anticipated escrow requirement of $3.1 billion, the Postal Service will likely have a net deficiency approaching $2 billion.

Since Potter became Postmaster General in 2001, the Postal Service has reduced costs by a cumulative $15 billion, according to the USPS.

"Our postal team is moving more mail, going to more places, and doing it with less people," Potter said.

In September, he unveiled plans to continue to reduce costs, pledging to take another $5 billion out of the Postal Service by 2010.
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