The Postal Rate Commission Friday recommended a 4-cent increase in the rate for first-class mail to 29 cents a letter.

The U.S. Postal Service had requested that the first-class rate be raised a nickel to 30 cents.However, the independent rate commission said 30 cents was not justified and scaled that back by a penny, a change that the commission said would save mailers $800 million per year.

In addition, the rate commission recommended that a new 27-cent rate be introduced for the public when it uses specially prepared reply envelopes that contain coding, making it easier for the post office to handle.

The last time the Postal Rate Commission differed from the post office's request was a decade ago when it recommended an 18-cent stamp instead of the 20 cents that had been requested. In that year, the postage rate eventually did rise to 20 cents, but in two steps.

The matter now goes back to the U.S. Postal Service governors, who may accept the recommendation, reject it and ask for reconsideration by the rate commission or put the rates into effect under protest.