A 2-cent boost in the price of a postage stamp was approved Tuesday by the independent Postal Rate Commission (search).

Under the recommendation, which now goes to the Postal Service's Board of Governors for final action, the cost of a first-class stamp will go from 37 cents to 39 cents and the postcard rate will rise a penny to 24 cents. The Postal Service (search) requested the increase last April. It is expected to go into effect in January.

The increase is needed so the post office can make a $3.1 billion escrow payment required by Congress. A bill that would eliminate that payment and make other changes in postal operations was approved by the House but has not yet passed the Senate. The White House (search) has expressed reservations about the bill.

The Postal Service had requested a 5.4 percent increase in all postage rates, but the rate commission altered some of the proposals. The matter now goes back to the Board of Governors, which can agree to the commission's changes or ask for reconsideration.

The rate commission said its decision reduced proposed increases for nonprofit organizations and small local newspapers, but would raise the post office's planned charges for mailing books and media materials.

Postage rates last increased in June 2002.

Rate changes included in the recommendations:

— First-class mail, first ounce, up 2 cents to 39 cents.

— First-class, each additional ounce, up 1 cent to 24 cents.

— Post card, up 1 cent to 24 cents.

— Priority Mail, base rate up 20 cents to $4.05.

— Priority Mail, one pound, up 30 cents to $6.15.

— Express Mail, 8 ounces, up 75 cents to $14.40.

— Parcel Post, 2 pounds, up 22 cents to $4.36.

— Certified mail, up 10 cents to $2.40.

— Money orders up 5 cents to 95 cents.

— Weekly news magazine, up 1 cent to 18.5 cents.

— Household magazine, up 1.5 cents to 28.9 cents.

— In-county newspaper, down 0.2 cents to 5.8 cents.

— Small nonprofit publication, up 1.4 cents to 28.3 cents.

— Presorted advertising mail, 2 ounces, up 1.1 cents to 21.4 cents.