The price of a first-class postage stamp rises by another penny starting Monday, going from 41 cents to 42 cents.

However, if you're using the popular Forever Stamps, they will remain good indefinitely.

Monday's price increase — the second in two years — suggests that postal rates will rise annually, according to Charles Guy, the former director of the Postal Service's Office of Economics and Strategic Planning.

"Raising stamp prices — even on a yearly basis — won't save the Postal Service from the significant fiscal challenges it faces," said Guy, now a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, in a press release.

Decreasing mail volume and rising gasoline prices mean the Postal Service has a $707 million shortfall for the first quarter of the year. The Post Office delivered 51.3 billion pieces of mail during the quarter, a decline of 3.3 percent.

Demand for the Forever Stamp continued to increase as the Monday stamp price change approached. This past week, Postal Service customers have been buying Forever Stamps at a rate of about 60 million per day, bringing the amount sold to more than 6 billion since they were first offered in April 2007.

"We knew the Forever Stamp would be a big hit with our customers, and we continue to replenish our stock to meet demand," said Ken McArthur, Salt Lake district manager. "We introduced these stamps as a customer convenience to ease the transition during price changes, and they also deliver economic value."

The Forever Stamp, as the name suggests, can be used to mail a one-ounce, first-class mail letter at any time in the future without additional postage, regardless of when the stamps are purchased or used and no matter how prices may change.

However, like regular stamps, the price of a Forever Stamp goes up to 42 cents on Monday, too.

Forever Stamps, featuring an image of the Liberty Bell, are available for purchase at post offices nationwide, online at usps.com, by phone at 800-STAMP-24, and from Automated Postal Centers and ATMs. They are sold in booklets of 20 and sheetlets of 18.

Monday's rate hike represents the fifth price increase since 2001. Stamp prices have gone up nearly 24 percent during that time.

U.S. postage stamps began in 1863 at a cost of 3 cents. They rose to double figures — 10 cents — on March 2, 1974. They surpassed the 30-cent mark in 1995 by moving to 32 cents and rose to 41 cents on May 14, 2007.

Detailed information about all the new prices, including ways to save on Express Mail and Priority Mail, is available at usps.com/prices.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com