Inefficiency and the U.S. Postal Service's monopoly status caused the 4-cent increase in first class postage scheduled to take effect Feb. 3, according to a report issued Friday.

James Bovard, an associate policy analyst for the Cato Institute, a Washington "think tank," said in the report that the increase from 25 cents to 29 cents for first-class postage comes as the Postal Service is implementing the "greatest intentional slowdown in mail delivery in U.S. history.""Billions of letters a year are being delayed as part of a novel scheme to improve mail service," Bovard said in the report. "The behavior of the Postal Service can be understood only in light of its monopoly. No private delivery service would lecture its customers that there was no real difference between faster and slower delivery."

Bovard noted the average first class letter now takes 22 percent longer to reach its destination than in 1969.

Bovard added that in 1764, the goal for delivery between New York City and Philadelphia was two days, while it now takes the same amount of time for mail to go from one New York City address to another.

Last March the Postal Service, facing losses of up to $1.6 billion, proposed raising the price of a first-class stamp from 25 to 30 cents, but the Postal Rate Commission earlier this month rejected the proposal and approved only a 4-cent increase.