As many patrons of the United States (US) Postal Service have noted, the cost of stamps and other services is continually on the rise. In 2008, stamp prices rose twice in one year, causing a great deal of unrest among users of the US Postal Service, and leading to the widespread adoption of the Forever Stamp, a stamp which is guaranteed to deliver a first class letter, no matter how much the postage is.
There are a number of reasons why the US Postal Service raises rates on a regular basis, and it may come as some consolation to consumers that rate changes must be approved by the entire USPS board, in concert with the Postal Regulatory Commission. As a general rule, the USPS tries to keep rates as low as possible, and it is not allowed to raise rates any more than necessary.
The US Postal Service relies on revenue from the services it provides to fund those services, receiving no assistance from the United States government, so the cost of stamps and other services is directly linked to the cost of running the US Postal Service. Several things contribute to increasing operating costs. The first, of course, is inflation; as all Americans know, a dollar does not go as far as it used to, and inflation plays a role in the rising costs of all goods and services, not just postage. While the US Postal Service has historically tried to keep stamp prices as low as possible, ultimately inflation takes its toll.
Rising fuel costs have also contributed to a need to raise rates regularly, as it costs more to deliver the mail, and rising minimum wage requirements have increased operating costs at USPS facilities as well. The US Postal Service also prides itself on providing an excellent benefits package to employees and former employees, and this costs a great deal of money to run. Furthermore, the US Postal Service must pay for uniforms, vehicle fleets, equipment, new facilities, maintenance, and a host of other services which are all funded through stamp revenue.
Stamp rates have also risen in response to changing consumer attitudes about the post office. The use of the US Postal Service is on the decline, with many consumers using the Internet to send e-mail, pay bills, and read newspapers, and, as a result, the US Postal Service doesn't have as much revenue to draw upon as it once did. As a result, it has been forced to raise stamp prices to ensure that it continues to run smoothly, even though fewer people are using its services.