return to main page
PRICE HISTORY -- 1st CLASS LETTER RATES
July 1, 1885 2
November 2, 1917 3
2 THE GREAT DEPRESSION of the DIRTY THIRTIES
3 With inflation
zero or less (deflation),
postage did not change for 26
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
44 With inflation zero during the Great
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
and growing instability in the society.
January 22, 2017 49
MORE PRICE HISTORY - RECENT 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:
April 2011, the 1st class letter increment increased from 17 to 20¢/oz,
but not the 1oz
along with the usual mid-year parcel rate (shipping
service) changes. Letter changes were supposed to be in
After this embarrassing irregularity, the per-oz increment was
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
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.
Up 1¢ from 49¢ on 21Jan2018, but per-oz increment and bad envelope penalty both left at 21¢
People to whom our society has handed success would like to weaken the
USPS and profit from making its business their own. For these
people, Success for Self is clean fun, because they have trouble seeing
The top-ranking USPS leadership is dominated by corporate executives from shipping and mass marketing (junk
mail) industries. Below the Board of Governors (vacant, no appointments under President Trump) , high-level USPS
executives enjoyed a revolving door to the shipping industry,
retiring early into new careers at triple salary. The
revolving door between government and corporations catapults
industry people into top government positions, and lets government
into new -- and lucrative -- industry jobs.
No one at the USPS who defended the USPS against industry
competition -- or led the USPS forward to success in eCommerce -- would
ever retire to a
"second life" in an industry
job at triple his former salary.
With everyone playing his small part, big changes rolled out the
door. Postal rates were characterized by
abolition of flat rate service,
by increasing numbers of zones, by more frequent and less uniform
changes -- some small enough to make any marketing or branding expert
wonder if they were necessary at all. In the new era of service
and survival, mailing became impossible without computer access
for on-line support, without a trip to ever-shrinking numbers of ever
less-local post offices. Using complexity and instability of
rates to weaken the USPS is
not dramatically powerful, but it is working. Rate complexity and
instability is easily rendered
unstoppable by invoking questionable change at every opportunity in the
name -- shout it and be proud! -- of saving the Postal Service from
bankruptcy. Rate structure complexity and instability is not a
strong force for the destruction of the United States Postal Service,
but it is working.
Another important rescue to save the USPS from bankruptcy is the
closure of mail distribution centers -- enough of them to prevent one
stamp on an ordinary envelope from getting overnight delivery. Shout "Saving them from bankruptcy!" until
FedEx Overnight is the only show in town. Delivering
an ordinary envelope the next day and "overnight delivery" by
FedEx are not much different, except that one costs $21.05 to $36.05
("FedEx Envelope" up to 8 oz, 2013) and the other costs 92 cents (3 oz
First Class business envelope 2018).
The availability of enough bankruptcy crises to move ahead with needed
rescues was guaranteed by requiring the USPS to fully fund an
account to cover the projected retirement and health benefit costs of
postal retirees not yet hired at the time the legislation (The
Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, below) was
passed. No other government agency or private enterprise
must pre-fund even one
year in advance, whereas this Congressional "enhancement" act mandates
that the USPS must pre-fund employee benefits decades into the
future. And it worked. In the decade after passage, the
legislation was credited with causing 90 percent of the red ink.
The red ink losses were called "revenue" shortfalls, and rates were
to make the revenue good again. The line at the bottom was
red, but far above it, the new line that made it red was not the
During the Trump-Pence administration, Board of
Governors appointments were not made, in line with an "empty
and executive "deconstruction" policy to weaken not just
the USPS, but every Cabinet-level department. Trump could not
live next to the ideological genius Steve Bannon and threw him
out. Bannon left to work on returning as the country's successor
to Trump, someone with a better focus on the use of power.
2006: The "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act" is 85 pages long:
The Constitution calls for a postal service
as necessary for democracy, and orders us to create one for
the USPS must serve where people occur but profit does not, then all
should contribute to provide for the few. Everything averages out
for the better when the country pulls together.
- Congress gives up control and
lets USPS raise prices on 45 days notice by itself. Lack of
Congressional control also means lack of Congressional hearings and
loss of Congressional staff expertise who must assemble the background knowledge for hearings.
- The requirement for open, on-the-record public hearings is suppressed.
- Congress promises price increases will not exceed the inflation rate for past 12 months . . .
- but if rates do exceed inflation, Congress promises to punish the postal system with more regulations and procedures.
is no separation of services used by corporations from
services paid for by people. You can't treat them
differently. There is no way to ask corporations to subsidize and
help out anyone else. There is no way to ask the country to
subsidize a rural post office in order to help keep a small town
alive. The concept of coming together under nationhood to help
one another out and achieve greatness together seems cognitively beyond reach for people
wearing American flag pins.
inflation rates used by the Postal Regulatory Commission to increase
our cost of living do not have to match the Cost of Living increases
that you and I get for Social Security, etc. (COLAs).
Where the Postal Service has
power (it is practically the only one carrying letters), the Congressional Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act lays
on regulations and procedures that increase everything but transparency. The
less regulated is the package sector most in direct competition with
corporate shipping giants. Let it play out by itself. Let
them price themselves out of the market.
This shipping regulatory strategy is so easy to comprehend that
ending public hearings in Congress was not enough to protect it,
and the suppression of public hearings in the USPS itself had also to
be written into the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. In this
way, the Act fulfills a Congressional tradition we have all learned to count on: any legislation named "accountability" will
shield subterfuge, and any legislation named "enhancement" is aimed at
destroying the subject of its attentions.
In 2016, the Postal Regulatory Commission failed to complete on time
its ten year review of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act's
return to main page
Current USPS Postage Rate Charts - simple tables
1st Class Letters pricing history -- Revised 4Feb2014 9July2015--I'm late since 31May; 31Jan2017 26Jan2018