Postage rates cannot stay stagnant. The rising cost of fuel is a concern. Upkeep of vehicles, buildings, and machinery are all factors that will rise as well. Federal employees need insurance, pay, and retirement benefits. How do those costs get covered?

The increase to $.66 on July 9th had plenty of notice given, but as a private citizen who purchases Forever Stamps in bulk, it was unnerving to see how much the price of stamps had risen since the last purchase a couple of years ago. What has happened to the process of mailing a letter? How did we get to this price? Let us first address who sets it.

What System Determines and Controls the Cost of Stamps in the US?

Congress first had control of the rate in 1792. Processes were refined and coordinated regarding letter size, destination, and shipping overseas. Since the 19th century, postage rates for a stamp became standardized in the United States. No longer would a rate be considered by distance. In 1970, the Postal Reorganization Act made the cost of stamps fall on the Postal Regulatory Commission. In 1971, the Post Office became the United States Postal Service.

Cost of Stamps Since 1971

Looking at a decade-by-decade view:

1971-1981: $.08 per stamp $.12 bringing the cost to 20.
1981-1991: The price of a stamp was $.09 more at 29 cents.
1991-2001: Only a $.05 hike over this decade with a 1oz. letter costing $.34 to mail.
2011-2011: The rates hiked another $.10 becoming 44 cents.
2011-2021: A larger hike for the next decade as the price went up $.14 bringing the cost to 58 cents to mail a letter.
Since August 2021 the cost of a stamp has gone up to $.66, $.08 in just 2 years.

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There’s a full budget submitted to Congress to show the money coming in and going out. Prepayment for employee retirement funds forced price hikes as well as other factors. For the average person, the answer is, postal service pricing is dependent on volume. The fewer packages and letters that are sent through USPS, the more each piece will have to cost to support the process. So blame the internet for email, banks for online bill pay, and Congress for making rules.

The takeaway is to buy as many Forever Stamps as possible now. Who knows how high stamps will go by 2031?

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