WASHINGTON — It’ll cost a penny more to mail a letter next year.
The cash-strapped US Postal Service announced yesterday that it will increase postage rates on Jan. 22, including a 1-cent increase in the cost of first-class mail, to 45 cents.
Under the law the post office cannot raise prices more than the rate of inflation, which is 2.1 percent, unless it gets special permission from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The commission last year turned down such a request.
The Postal Service lost $8 billion in fiscal 2010 and the bottom line is likely to be even worse when final figures for fiscal 2011 are released next month.
The rate increase will make only a small dent in those losses, caused by the recession, movement of mail to the Internet, and a requirement that the agency fund future retiree medical benefits years in advance.
Other proposals to cut losses have included reduction of mail delivery from six to five days a week and closing thousands of offices across the country.
The current 44-cent rate has been in effect since May 2009.
“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 Postal Regulatory Commission has 45 days to verify that the new prices comply with the law limiting the increase to an average of 2.1 percent across all types of mail. They can then take effect.
Because most stamps being issued are “Forever’’ stamps, they will remain good for first-class postage.
Other prices will also change, including:
- Postcards will go up 3 cents, to 32 cents.
- Letters to Canada and Mexico will increase a nickel, to 85 cents.
- Letters to other foreign countries will go up 7 cents, to $1.05.