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Rising cost of U.S. Postage Stamps

Here’s a line graph showing the historic trend of the first class postage stamp rate increase since 1945.

Rising cost of United States Postage

It seems like stamps are rising in cost so much lately. But it’s really been a historic trend since the beginning of the 1970s. That decade saw the cost of stamps have turned the sharp spike upward, and it’s kept a pretty consistent pace. Therefore it’s not so unusual to have stamps increase in price to 42 cents. It’s just keeping in historic trends.

Every decade since the 1970s has seen around eight to ten cents increase in the cost of a stamp. Here’s the specific stats:

1920s: no increase

1930s: no increase

1940s: no increase

1950s: 1 cent increase (from 3 to 4 cents)

1960s: 2 cents increase (from 4 cents to 6)

1970s: 9 cents increase (from 6 cents to 15)

1980s: 10 cents increase (from 15 cents to 25)

1990s: 8 cents increase (from 25 cents to 33)

2000s: 9 cents increase (from 33 cents to 42–so far proposed)

Of course it’s interesting to note that stamps would cost between two and three cents from 1885 to 1957. So 1958 was really the year when stamps would increase in price and never look back.

55 Responses to Rising cost of U.S. Postage Stamps

  1. Mike Maddaloni March 13, 2007 at 8:09 am #

    Great stamp picture! Between the rate increases and the mess of lack of delivery and accountability, there is no hope for the USPS.

  2. unlikelymoose March 13, 2007 at 8:35 am #

    sharp graph. excellent color palette and texture. We have direct marketing (junk mail) to thank for the rate increases.

  3. Tom Saaristo March 13, 2007 at 8:55 am #

    I love the graphic! Very nice! I think I told you how incredible it is that we can still send first class letters for under $1! There are some places where it costs the equivalant of $10 U.S. to mail a letter

  4. Matt Maldre March 13, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    Thanks everyone! I like how the graph ended u looking like a stamp. Originally I was just gonna put the graph onto a stamp shape. But then when the 42 ended up in the corner, I figured that it would be neat to make it really big since A) it would look like a stamp. B) 42 is the hot new number that stamps are might be going up to, so might as well punch that number big.

  5. Matt Maldre March 13, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    Here’s the specific years that had a stamp cost increase: 1945: 3 1958: 4 1963: 5 1968: 6 1971: 8 1974: 10 1975: 13 1978: 15 1981: 18 1985: 22 1988: 25 1991: 29 1995: 32 1999: 33 2001: 34 2002: 37 2006: 39 2007: 42

  6. Abhay Shah March 14, 2007 at 10:04 pm #

    It’s still pretty amazing that I can write a letter, put it in my mailbox, and it shows up in California, Washington state, or Hawaii a few days later. I’d be willing to pay a buck for that service.

  7. Mike Maddaloni March 15, 2007 at 6:53 am #

    I also think it’s amazing that when you sign up – and pay for – the USPS’s Premium Forwarding Service at the Loop post office station, that they are unable to get the paperwork from the counter to the basement of the same building to put the forwarding in place! And it wasn’t long ago when calling Europe from the US was a dollar a minute. I am willing to pay the fair and accurate cost for a service. But when the service costs are not justifiable, and most of the payroll is stocked with people that don’t believe in accountability, that is when I stop sending thru USPS and pay more for the reliable and accountable UPS.

  8. Goody March 20, 2007 at 12:18 am #

    I agree it’s amazing at how little it costs to do so much, but I also agree it wouldn’t be such an issue if alot of things went paperless… bank statements, creditcard bills and everything else. either way, as gas prices rise, its only expected for them to raise the price of stamps so that way the’re using less tax dollars and more internal revenue to pay for mailing letters.

  9. David March 22, 2007 at 12:22 am #

    To everyone commenting how little it costs to send a letter, Don’t forget that some of your federal taxes go to paying for the letter to be sent. The Government gives the USPS millions a year. You are really paying a higher pricer per letter than just the stamp.

  10. Matt Maldre March 26, 2007 at 12:09 pm #

    Someone that is very smart figured out that it’s only 2.5% return on the forever stamp. So yeah, that’s not very good investment.

  11. Coleman Miller March 31, 2007 at 8:13 pm #

    Historicaly, the rate increase is equil to the cost of living. Please show graph showing this fact.

  12. Coleman Miller March 31, 2007 at 8:29 pm #

    In reply to David on Mar. 22 07 1:22am The postal service is by law self-sustaining. And in fact contributes to the national government.

  13. Katie April 14, 2007 at 11:30 am #

    In response to Coleman Miller on March 31, 2007: The USPS is funded by five sources. (1) mail and services revenue; (2) reimbursements from Federal and non-Federal sources; (3) proceeds from borrowing; (4) interest from U.S. securities and other investments; and (5) appropriations by Congress

  14. Chris May 7, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    Nice graph, but the price for a stamp is rising to 41 cents, not 42 cents on May 14, 2007.

  15. Matt Maldre May 7, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    oh snap! 41 cents. woops! Thanks for pointing that out, Chris.

  16. Jay May 14, 2007 at 8:11 am #

    Nice graph. What font did you use?

  17. Dan May 18, 2007 at 6:17 pm #

    Just seems a little high to me, I think it passed a psychological threshold. I’m paying ALL my bills online from now one.

  18. Virtual Office August 20, 2007 at 12:30 pm #

    The good thing about the stamps is that they finally have a real value. Since with the email, which does not need a stamp, unfortunately, these things are going to worth a lot. Maybe we will invent a virtual stamp, who knows?

  19. ConfusedStamper August 30, 2007 at 12:35 pm #

    If the price is 41 not 42, please change this graph. Your website is one of the first to pop up in Google and is very confusing!!

  20. unlikelymoose August 30, 2007 at 1:06 pm #

    Confusedstamper, what is the search term you used? I tried various different searches and this blog entry does not show up.

  21. Failedtoteachmykidthepriceofastamp November 24, 2007 at 1:07 am #

    My son paid $16.25 to send a card. He had never mailed a letter before and must not have been unaware that the price should be less than a dollar. When I spoke to the supervisor at the P.O, he readily admitted that it is their policy to “offer the highest quality service first” i.e. to rip off the consumer if at all possible. Lesson learned.

  22. us postage stamps February 5, 2008 at 12:53 am #

    nice graph! you also present the heirarchy pricing of Postage stamps. Still the good thing is that they finally have real value.

  23. Ingvar Strom February 12, 2008 at 4:50 am #

    To me the most amazing is that the curve is almost as steep in the past 20 years as in the super high inflation decades 70 s and 80 s! Shows what liars the Fed and Greenspan were and Bernanke is when saying with a straight face the inflation was/is contained

  24. hawaii helicopter tours February 21, 2008 at 3:08 am #

    The stamp vending system then authorizes the purchase order, prints the stamp sheet(s) and finally dispenses them to the consumer. The ability to peruse, request, authorize, print, and dispense a stamp purchase using the Internet makes these the world’s first browser-based stamps.

  25. Steve Schmotaloka March 24, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    $ 0.32 of that price rise is inflation. So the real cost has has increased by less than half. A first class stamp today, at 1958 prices, would be $ .0573. Pretty good measure of inflation.

  26. greg May 19, 2008 at 8:47 am #

    this graph sucks its 92 dollors

  27. dudies!!! May 20, 2008 at 8:01 am #

    this graph is kool i am using it for a school project babes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  28. george May 20, 2008 at 8:02 am #

    greg you are such a lier because it is 42 cents in new york so ha and really ou are stupid

  29. george May 20, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    george again so anyway today is greg’s birthday HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREG!!!!!!!!! LOL

  30. george May 20, 2008 at 8:07 am #

    give me a G give me an E give me an O give me a R give me a G give me an E What does that spell????? GEORGE

  31. george May 20, 2008 at 8:11 am #


  32. george May 20, 2008 at 8:14 am #


  33. george May 20, 2008 at 8:18 am #

    this site rocks you should make more sites for younger children and stuff like that so i am george and this is…rising cost of u.s postage WOW

  34. george May 20, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    just like dudies i am using this totally cool graph for a school project you know why because this site ROX

  35. Hugo May 20, 2008 at 8:24 am #

    where i am from it is not 42 cents it is 12 dollars i mean really isn’t that soooooo cheap OMG

  36. Hugo May 20, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    lollipop lollipop oh lolli lolli pop POP ba ba ba

  37. Hugo May 20, 2008 at 8:32 am #

    OMG i once met George and boy is he a hottie he also told when he is working on graphing i can come and watch wow i am in love

  38. Matt Maldre May 20, 2008 at 8:39 am #

    Happy Birthday Greg! woooooo! yah!

  39. Hugo May 20, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    spudart how old are you are you a boy or a girl we <33 u!!!! where are you from??????

  40. Hugo May 20, 2008 at 8:47 am #


  41. Virtual Office August 6, 2008 at 10:36 pm #

    The price of the stamp is again on the rise unfortunately. Sending virtual emails might be the best way of minimizing costs.

  42. Office Space August 28, 2008 at 5:26 am #

    Just loving the graphic! 8/10 very nice I think there exist a virtual stamp in some part of the world as we speak. China is researching on that now.

  43. Pinyo October 9, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Stamps rise at the same rate (roughly) as inflation.

  44. dj41326 October 10, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    Is it any wonder that once we were taken off the gold standard the price of stamps increased exponentially?

  45. Sean October 12, 2008 at 4:14 am #

    You’ve got to be kidding me. You have to correct for inflation for this graph to be remotely relevant.

  46. Stamp listing April 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    I like the graph status

  47. samantha April 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    Hi, i am going to use your graph for an economics project- however i need to know what constant dollars it was using?

  48. Matt Maldre April 22, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    What constant dollars? Uh, American dollars?

  49. ashley August 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Rising cost of postage stamps are sometimes due to the reason that emails are much preferred line of communication than snail mails. But i understand that this must not be enough reason for the postage to rise so high.

  50. Russ November 18, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    Using the CPI a 1865 stamp today would cost $.41 Graphs can be put together to show anything is dramatic. The reality is that the USPS does a darn good job doing basic mail delivery. Remember it is not suppose to make a profit so it will always either break even or lose money. Otherwise rate increases would not be allowed. It is a disservice to the men and woman at the post office to slander them in this way.

  51. JohnWilliams March 14, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Such a deterrent for sending mail, soon it will be phased away completely!

  52. Jonah October 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Yes, it is remarkable how well the cost of a first class postage stamp in the USA has tracked the cost of living. In other words, at least from 1865 (as posted previously by Russ), it has cost the same to mail a first class letter, in terms of purchasing power. Another interesting thing about the chart is that the increases really started spiking after Nixon pulled the USA off the gold standard in the early 1970s. Of course, he had no choice; his government was printing money to pay for Viet Nam, but it couldn’t print gold bricks. The result was that European banks made a run on US gold with their newly depreciated dollars. The “gold window” had to be shut or Ft Knox would have been emptied out….not too long after, gold was demonetized altogether.

  53. Virtual offices london November 16, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Rising costs-Less mail it`s all email now

  54. Jan Guszynski January 28, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    How much will be too much for you to pay?

  55. Matt Maldre January 29, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    Hmm. I dunno. But 46 cents still seems like a deal to have someone hand-carry a letter hundreds of miles to someone’s personal box outside their living space.

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