MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – U.S. Postal Service prices are on the rise.

On Monday, the price of a first-class stamp rose, by 1 cent, to 46 cents, and the price to send a post card rose, also by 1 cent, to 33 cents.

The higher prices are part of the cash-strapped government agency’s effort to right itself financially.

It’s the second one-cent price hike in about a year. It comes after the Postmaster General said the Postal Service is on an unsustainable financial path.

The agency is losing $25 million per day, it defaulted on $11.1 billion in Treasury payments, and it’s exhausted its borrowing authority.

Agency officials hope a penny more per stamp — and jumping into the packaging business full force — will help lead the Postal Service to financial stability.

The agency has seen its mail volume and revenue decline over the years. Some say electronic communication is behind it all.

“The last time I bought a postal stamp…it’s been about two years,” said Major Topps, Jr., who calls his cell phone a “post office on the go.”

Topps says many of his friends rely on technology to communicate with family and friends.

“It’s all email, text messages,” he said. “Now you can get even your email sent to your cell phone, so it’s almost like snail mail is irrelevant.”

This kind of thinking has the Postal Service thinking outside the box, looking for real opportunities in packaging.

The agency’s packaging business is the only part of the agency to grow, mainly because of online shopping. The shipping section of the Postal Service grew 9 percent in 2012.

“[Consumers are] going online, ordering things. We’ve got part of that business. They have to return things, we’ve got part of that business. That’s one of the places we’re looking to grow,” said Pete Nowacki, a Postal Service spokesperson.

To help get its financial house in order, the Postal Service has also decreased the payroll by 60,000 career employees, consolidated 70 mail processing facilities and reduced hours at many post offices.

The agency is also working with schools to encourage more letter writing.

The Postmaster General hopes the 113th Congress will make postal reform a priority — something he feels will put the organization on stable long-term financial footing.

Reg Chapman