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Price of first-class stamps rises 3 cents

A United States Postal Service mailbox is shown in this undated file photo.

January 26, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The cost of sending a letter has gone up by three cents, boosting the price of a first-class mail stamp to 49 cents.

The three-cent increase is the largest hike in more than a decade.

It was approved on Dec. 24 to keep up with inflation and recoup losses from the Great Recession. The U.S. Post Office has exhausted a $15 billion loan from taxpayers to make up for shortfalls.

The change will last no more than two years, allowing the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses.

The independent Postal Regulatory Commission said the change is justified by mail volume decreases since 2008.

Regulators said the Postal Service has to come up with a plan to phase out the higher rates once the lost revenue is recouped. It's unclear if that would take rates for first-class postage back to 46 cents in 2016 or to a different level.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.