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PRICE  HISTORY -- 1st CLASS LETTER RATES

July 1, 1885                     2
November 2, 1917         3
July 1, 1919                    2   THE GREAT DEPRESSION of the DIRTY THIRTIES
July 6, 1932                    3     With inflation zero or less (deflation),
                                                 postage did not change for 26 years.
August 1, 1958               4
January 7, 1963             5
January 7, 1968             6
May 16, 1971                 8
March 2, 1974             10
December 31, 1975   13
May 29, 1978              15
March 22, 1981          18
November 1, 1981     20
February 17, 1985     22
April 3, 1988               25
February 3, 1991       29
January 1, 1995         32
January 10, 1999       33
January 7, 2001         34
June 30, 2002            37
January 8, 2006         39
May 14, 2007             41
May 12, 2008             42
May 11, 2009             44     With inflation zero during the Great Recession,
January 22, 2012       45    postage changed every single year.
January 27, 2013       46    It went up, even though interest rates were almost zero.
January 26, 2014       49    This instability is a sign of conflict
April 10,   2016          47    and growing instability in the society.
January 22, 2017       49   
-                                      -         


http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/rates-historical-statistics.htm



MORE  PRICE  HISTORY DETAILS
1st CLASS LETTER RATES

+3¢ to 41¢ on 14May07; increment is 17¢/oz & Forever Stamps start.
Up 1 cent  to 42¢ 12May08. 
Early 2008, $5B Forevers sold, $5B more printed for the May08 rush.

Nonmachinable surcharge increased 17¢ to 20¢ May08
Up  2 cents from $0.42 -- 44¢ on 11May09.
Incrementing 20¢, not 17¢, on 17April2011.  

NOTE ABOUT THIS INCREMENT:
In April 2011,  the 1st class letter increment increased from 17 to 20¢/oz, but not the 1oz stamp
along with the usual mid-year parcel rate  (shipping service)  changes.  Letter changes were supposed to be in January. 
After this embarrassing irregularity, the per-oz increment was untouched until Jan2014.

Up 1 cent from $0.44 on 22Jan2012.
Up 1 cent from $0.45 on 27Jan2013.
Up 3 cents from $0.46 on 26Jan2014.
Incrementing 21¢, not 20¢, on 26Jan2014.
Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty") 20¢ -> 21¢ 26Jan2014.
Incrementing 22¢, not 21¢, on 31May2015.
Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty") also increased 21¢ -> 22¢  31May2015.
Increment back to 21¢ on 10Apr2016; Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope") also back to 21¢
    (Expiration of two-year exemption to inflation-matched rate increases granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission;
     their grant of an "exigent surcharge" in 2014.)
Increment and nonmachinable surcharged unchanged in the price increase of 22Jan2017.
    Increases were in 1st class (everything: letters, flats, small parcels) and Media Mail.
    All increases weighted small items harder (more expensive) and left the end of the USPS weight scale more competitive.
)


BACKGROUND

2006:  The "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act" is 85 pages long: 
But shipping ("Priority") is different from letters.  Starve the Post Office from rate increases elsewhere, and force them to jack up package costs.  Why is that?  .

Where FedEx and the UPS brown trucks are ready to take all the business, Congress lets the post office price itself out of the market without jumping through inflation hoops.  In other words, where the Postal Service has pricing power (it is practically the only one carrying letters), Congress lays on regulations and procedures that increase everything but transparency (that get rid of tired and true former requirements for public hearings on the public record).  Where the Postal Service does not have pricing power and where competitors are ready to undercut them to capture the market, Congress leaves the Postal Service free to go hang itself.
 
SERVICES USED BY PEOPLE vs SERVICES USED BY CORPORATIONS:  My Two Bits:
Subsidized prices for corporate junk mail should be raised -- the Internet cannot make you receive and print it, it must be mailed.
Subsidize my letters and postcards instead of corporate mail, because the Internet can kill letter and postcard traffic, they need help. 
Dear Sirs,  What you have chosen to price up and up will just topple the system faster and faster.
Before you shut it all down and sell it all off, remember that the US Constitution guarantees us a postal system.
Thank you.

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Current USPS Postage Rate Charts - simple tables
1st Class Letters pricing history -- Revised  4Feb2014  9July2015--I'm late since 31May; 31Jan2017