Is there really really a coin shortage

Sarah Ebeling | Managing Editor

Editor’s note: Information in this article was provide through a press release from the US Mint

According to the US Mint, the impact of COVID-19 has resulted in the disruption of the supply channels of circulating coinage – the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that the American people and businesses use in their day-to-day transactions. The United States Mint is part of the solution to this issue, but they need help.

In normal circumstances, retail transactions and coin recyclers return a significant amount of coins to circulation on a daily basis. However, precautions taken to slow the spread of the virus have resulted in reduced retail sales activity and significantly decreased deposits from third-party coin processors, resulting in increased orders for newly minted coins produced by the United States Mint (Mint). Third-party coin processors and retail activity account for the majority of coins put into circulation each year. For example, in 2019, the Mint contributed 17% of newly-minted circulating coins paid into the supply chain, with the remainder coming from third-party coin processors and retail activity.

Simply put, there is an adequate amount of coins in the economy, but the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coins are sometimes not readily available where needed. Communities and businesses may be experiencing this and the Mint is asking for help to improve the coin supply issue. 

“You can do so by paying for things with exact change and by returning spare change to circulation. Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, it may be more difficult for retailers and small businesses to accept cash payments. For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change. We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk. The coin supply problem can be solved with each of us doing our part,” the press release explained. 

Locally, Rivers Edge Bank in Parker has been part of the community since 1989. Vice president of retail banking Derek Nolen said that they have not seen a coin shortage at the bank, nor have they had an issue with ordering more coin. 

“In fact, we have seen a slight increase of coin coming in probably as a result of the national news story. We are not feeling a shortage here,” said Nolen. 

Nolen explained that although digital forms of payments will continue to increase, both with the ease of use and the current priority given to low-contact means of payment, paper money and coins will be around for quite some time. 

“As they say, cash is still king in the US,” said Nolen. 

The Mint has been operating at full production capacity since mid-June, minting almost 1.6 billion coins during the month of June. The Mint is on track to produce 1.65 billion coins per month for the remainder of the year. By comparison, in 2019, the Mint produced an average of 1 billion coins per month. They noted they have increased production while still prioritizing the health and well-being of their employees and maintaining a reduced risk of their exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

As always, and especially during this challenging time, the Mint is committed to supporting our Nation’s economy and commerce through the production of circulating coinage.

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