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Stamp Rates Rise 3 Cents on Sunday

June 27, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Mailing a letter will cost 3 cents more starting Sunday.

The boost in the first-class rate to 37 cents was approved in February after hearings by the independent Postal Rate Commission.

A variety of other rates, for items including postcards, parcel post and priority mail, will go up at the same time. Postal Vice President Azeezaly Jaffer said the increases would cost the average person about 45 cents extra a month.

Postmaster General John Potter has promised rates won't go up again until at least 2004.

The increase comes none too soon for the cash-strapped Postal Service, which lost $1.6 billion last year, even before the terrorist attacks cost it hundreds of millions. Nondenominated stamps covering the new first-class rate went on sale in early June and the post office also is printing millions of 3-cent stamps to help people use up leftover 34-cent stamps.

The increases affect only domestic mail.

Besides costs from the anthrax attacks and the Sept. 11 terrorism, mail volume has been declining in the soft economy. The agency does not receive taxpayer funds for normal operations. However, Congress has approved $675 million for damage and to help pay for sanitizing government mail.

In an effort to cut costs, the post office halted new construction and reduced staff by 12,000 last year and another 8,000 this year.

While the cost of the first ounce of first-class mail goes up 3 cents, each additional ounce will remain at 23 cents. Postcards go up 2 cents, to 23 cents, and express mail jumps $1.20 to $13.65 for 8 ounces.

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