How do U.S. stamp prices compare with postage costs in other countries?

Americans who are frustrated with the ever rising cost of postage may be surprised to learn that mailing a first-class letter costs significantly less in the U.S. than in other parts of the world.

The U.S. Postal Service — which has already raised the price of stamps twice this year, bringing the cost of sending first-class mail to 73 cents — tried to cushion word of the latest increase by noting that postage costs at home “remain among the most affordable in the world.” 

It’s a safe assumption that the Postal Regulatory Commission will approve the sixth price hike since January 2021, with the five-cent increase then schedule to take effect on July 14. Still, folks may not realize what a relative bargain postage in the U.S. is, at least when compared to mailing costs around the world. 

The U.S. ranks No. 5 in a listing of postage costs in a list of 30 countries, according to the USPS’ Office of Inspector General. The agency found that the cost of a stamp in the U.S. had risen a total of 26% — from 36 cents to 50 cents — over a five-year period from June 2018 to June 2023 — far less, on average, than in the other countries it looked at.

U.S. stamps also cost the least of the 31 postal services when the numbers were adjusted for purchasing power parity, a metric incorporating a country’s productivity, economic growth and cost of living. That adjusted-cost analysis had Italians paying $4.48 for a single first-class stamp as of June 2023, making 63 cents for a First Class Forever stamp appear quite the bargain indeed. The nominal price of an Italian stamp came to $2.96 — the priciest of the 31 nations listed.

The USPS’ latest postage hike comes as the agency, which in November reported a $6.5 billion loss for fiscal 2023, tries to streamline. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is scheduled to appear before a Senate hearing on Tuesday to talk about the agency’s operations. 

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