Sending a letter just got pricier for Americans. Since yesterday, a single Forever Stamp – suited for a first-class letter that weighs one ounce or less – costs 55 cents. Up from 50 cents, this latest increase is the largest single-year price hike in the history of the U.S. postal service
Since the 1970s, the price of a Forever Stamp has increased by 10 cents approximately every 10 years
. Before that, prices rose much slower through the single digits. Between 1932 and 1957, the stamp price remained steady at 3 cents per letter. By 1974, it had reached 10 cents.
The United States Postal Service is not allowed to raise their overall prices by a higher percentage than inflation – represented by the consumer price index. The fact that the first-class letter just got 10 percent more expensive means that the USPS must be increasing other prices at a lower rate than the current inflation rate of 2.5 percent - or not at all.
While Americans pay more for letters, they also have been mailing fewer. According to the USPS's own data
, mail volumes in the United States increased steadily until 2001, when higher internet usage rates meant more emails sent for business and private occasions. The decrease in mail volumes has been rather sharp – in the 17 years since 2001, mail volumes dropped by more than half to a level last seen in 1978.