The forever stamp will remain valid in the future regardless of any rate hikes that are enacted.
Mark Bradbury, supervisor with the Portsmouth Post Office, said the increase helps cover cost of living increases for the service's many workers.
Postal reform legislation was enacted in 2006 to reorganize the post office. "With the legislation we were allowed have price adjustments once a year," Bradbury said.
The United States Postal Service has the ability to raise prices each year. Rate increases occur in May, with the new prices announced in February, when the price is re-evaluated.
While the new 44-cent rate covers the first ounce of first-class mail, the price for each additional ounce will remain unchanged at 17 cents.
Bradbury credits the increase partially to a decrease in overall mail volume. "The volume is down an estimated 4 and one-half percent from last year," he said.
The Postal Service lost an estimated $2.8 billion in 2008 and, unless the economy turns around, the agency is estimated to be headed toward much larger losses this year.
The agency could have cited extraordinary circumstances and asked the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for larger increases, but officials felt that would only result in a greater decline in mail volume.
The post office has been cutting costs, reducing work hours, and has asked Congress to ease requirements for advance funds for retiree benefits and to allow mail to be delivered five days a week instead of six.
Postal officials estimate the increase will cost the average household $3 per year.
Other rate increases taking effect May 11 include, the postcard stamp increases 1 cent to 28 cents. The first ounce of a large envelope increases 5 cents to 88 cents.
The first ounce of a parcel increases 5 cents to $1.22. New international postcard and letter prices are, for one ounce, 75 cents to Canada; 79 cents to Mexico; and 98 cents elsewhere.
Most Postal Service shipping services prices were adjusted in January and will not change in May.