It was recently announced that the United States Postal Service (USPS) would not raise rates in 2010 on “market-dominate products”; this includes first-class mail.
The USPS is authorized to raise rates each May, based on the inflation rate (CPI) for the prior year. Although it’s looking like the CPI for 2009 will ultimately hover around zero — that is no inflation, but no deflation either — the USPS decided to make a decision early, heading off any doubt or uncertainty. This allows businesses, that are postage intensive (such as magazine publishers), to appropriately budget and plan for 2010. (Typically, postage-intensive businesses budget for an increase based on what they think the CPI will be.)
Although this is great for businesses, such a mine, it will ultimately be problematic for the Post Office, which will post another huge loss again this year. At some point they will need to stop the losses and at least break even. That means that those who use their services will rightly pay for it. So, it is realistic that at some time, there will — out of necessity — be a large increase.
From a consumer standpoint, however, it is nice to know that the cost of a first-class stamp will remain the same until at least May 2011. That means you can safely stock up on 44 cent stamps.