Washington, D.C. – The U.S. is running low on coins.
COVID-19 has disrupted national supply chains leading to a shortage of coins in daily circulation. The United States Mint is trying to remedy the situation, and is asking for your help.
Under normal circumstances, retail transactions and coin recyclers help bring back a large amount of coins into general circulation. However, due to COVID-19's impact on retail and the precautions taken to mitigate its spread, retail sales and third-party coin processing have decreased, leading to increased orders for newly minted coins produced by the United States Mint.
Normally, third-party coin processors and retail activity account for the majority of coins put into circulation each year. According to the U.S. Mint, 17% of newly-minted circulating coins paid into the supply chain came from the Mint in 2019, while the rest came from third-party coin processors and retail activity.
Therefore, while there are enough coins in the economy, the disruption in their circulation has led to a lack of supply in the places where coins are needed. Consumers may have already experienced this shortage while out shopping or at the bank.
Related reading: Businesses impacted by national coin shortage
The U.S. Mint is asking for individuals to help improve the coin supply 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," said the U.S. Mint.
Individuals are asked to follow all safety and health guidelines and rules when visiting retailers, small businesses, grocery stores, and financial institutions.
The U.S. Mint has remained in operation throughout the COVID-19 crisis. They implemented measures to reduce the number of employees per shift in order to enhance social distancing. Since mid-June, the Mint has been operating at full production capacity, 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. We have increased production while still prioritizing the health and well-being of our employees and maintaining a reduced risk of their exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace," said the U.S Mint in a press release.
"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."