Postal rates to increase again

The price for a first-class stamp will increase to 41 cents in just more than five weeks, but that isn't the only change the postal industry is instituting.

The price for a first-class stamp will increase to 41 cents in just more than five weeks, but that isn't the only change the postal industry is instituting.

Beginning May 14, new designations will be made between letters, flats and parcels.

Howard Kor, postmaster of Worthington's Post Office, said anything weighing less than 3.5 ounces in letter form is considered a letter.

"Flats are anything over 3.5 ounces, and they must be able to bend some," Kor said. "If it doesn't bend, it's going to be considered a parcel, and it's going to mean a price increase."

As an example, Kor said a person mailing three pages in a 9- by 12-inch manila envelope will pay more than if he had tri-folded the papers and mailed them in a letter-size envelope. The higher cost is directly related to the size of the envelope.


In addition, people who put a piece of cardboard inside an envelope when sending a picture through the mail will also be charged more if that envelope can't bend.

"They're making the prices associated with the handling of the piece," Kor said. The larger the envelope, the higher the price.

"Flats and parcels cost more to handle because we're basically doing (the sorting) all by hand," he added.

The new rules relating to letter classification will make it easier and more cost effective for the post office, said Kor, as all items classified as letters can be processed through the postal service's Delivery Point Sequence machine. Flats and parcels will still need to be processed by hand.

Because there is a time savings in processing letter-size envelopes, the cost of the second ounce to mail a first-class letter will actually drop in price, from 24 cents to 17 cents.

Kor said he fields a lot of questions about the postal process, specifically why all of the mail that comes into the local post office is sent on to Mankato.

The regional facility in Mankato can process 40,000 pieces of mail per hour, making it much more efficient than sorting the mail and sending it out from Worthington, he explained. A postal clerk can sort mail at an average rate of 1,000 pieces per hour.

"It saves us a lot of time," Kor said.


Another change taking effect May 14 is in Express Mail. The present system has one price for packages weighing between 8 ounces and 2 pounds. A new, 1-pound rate has now been established.

Also new is the First-Class Forever stamp, which goes on sale April 12. The stamp features the Liberty Bell, but does not include the price paid for the stamp.

"The cost is 41 cents, and that stamp will be good forever for a 1-ounce letter," Kor said. The USPS will still launch a new 41-cent flag stamp on May 14, although the price will be missing from that stamp as well because printing was completed before the exact rate of the new first-class stamp was set.

This is the second rate increase for the post office in as many years. On Jan. 8, 2006, the price for a first-class stamp went from 37 cents to 39 cents. Prior to that increase, the price for a first-class stamp hadn't changed since 2002.

"The post office works on a break-even ... (it) is not subsidized by the government," said Kor, adding that the cost of fuel, utilities, transportation and health benefits for employees have all increased.

More information on the postal increases and classifications is available on the postal service's Web site, .

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