Post Office To Announce Rate Increases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Battered by massive losses, the Postal Service wants to raise rates to bring in more money.

Postal officials scheduled a briefing Tuesday to discuss the amount of the increase, which will go to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for review.

The boost comes as no surprise. Postmaster General John Potter said March 2 that a rate increase would be necessary for the agency, which does not receive tax funds for its operations.

The current 44-cent first-class rate took effect May 11, 2009.

While that change will be the most visible, rates for other types of mail will also go up, raising concern among business groups and nonprofit organizations.

Under the law, the post office is generally limited to increases no more than the rate of inflation — 0.9 percent for the year ended in May.

However, the agency is allowed to seek a larger increase in unusual circumstances. Potter said in March he planned to take that step.

"The projections going forward are not bright," Potter said then. But, he added: "All is not lost. ... We can right this ship."

The agency lost $3.8 billion last fiscal year despite cutting 40,000 full-time positions and making other reductions. It has continued to face significant losses this year.

The weak economy has sharply reduced mail volume as companies cut their advertising. At the same time there has been a significant drop in lucrative first-class mail, with more and more people turning to the Internet to communicate with each other as well as to receive and pay bills.

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