The price of a postage stamp will soon go back down from 49 cents, thanks to a US appeals court. The US Postal Service instituted a 3-cent increase—its biggest in 11 years—in January of last year in an emergency measure, arguing that it had lost billions in the recession and badly needed to make up for the loss. Regulators agreed, but said USPS could only recoup about $3 billion from the move—and that limit will be hit this summer. The Postal Service had filed a legal challenge to fight to make the increase permanent, but the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed, the Washington Post reports. It is not clear when, exactly, the roll-back will occur, but no new stamps need to be printed: The USPS never made 49-cent stamps, but simply sold its "Forever" stamps for 49 cents instead of 46 cents.
The court noted that the reasoning for the rate increase was "extraordinary financial circumstances," and those circumstances are no longer extraordinary. The economic situation today, post-recession, is "the new normal," and the USPS has to make it work, the court said. The bulk mailing industry had legally challenged the rate increase, and an industry rep praised the decision: "Stamps should be forever, but not surcharges." Interestingly, when the AP reported the court's Friday move, it framed it as a loss for the bulk mail industry, since the court did uphold the temporary rate hike—a 4.3% increase that came on top of the typical 1.7% for inflation—it just didn't agree with the idea of making it permanent. As for when the higher rate will end, the AP says "later this year." (Read more USPS stories.)