The impact of COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the disruption of the supply channels of circulating coinage – the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that the U.S. businesses and consumers use in their day-to-day transactions.
“In normal circumstances, retail transactions and coin recyclers return a significant amount of coins to circulation on a daily basis,” noted the U.S. Mint, in a recent statement. “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. 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 percent of newly minted circulating coins paid into the supply chain, with the remainder coming from third-party coin processors and retail activity.”
In other words, 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. As a result, the Mint is asking consumers for their help in tackling this coin supply issue.
“You can do so by paying for things with exact change and by returning spare change to circulation,” continued the statement from the Mint. “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.
“As important as it is to get more coins circulating, safety is paramount. Please be sure to follow all safety and health guidelines and rules when visiting retailers, small businesses, grocery stores and financial institutions.”
During the early stages of the pandemic, the Mint acted quickly to implement measures to help mitigate the risk of employee exposure to COVID-19. These measures included temporarily reducing the number of employees per shift, in order to enhance social distancing.
The Mint has been operating at full production capacity since mid-June, minting nearly 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.