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Why is there a coin shortage? We explain

Allentown Morning Call logo Allentown Morning Call 7/16/2020 By Jennifer Sheehan, The Morning Call

Take a trip to your local supermarket or convenience store and you’ll probably see a sign asking you to use exact change.

While this may not seem to add up as many of us have used less cash and ordered more online, there’s actually a national coin shortage thanks to the pandemic.

In a nutshell, the pandemic has slashed the normal flow of coins in circulation through stores and businesses, said Michael White, spokesman for the United States Mint.

“During this pandemic, the demand for circulating coins has drastically increased, in part, because precautions taken throughout the nation to slow the spread of the virus have reduced retail sales activity and significantly decreased deposits from third-party coin processors,” said Michael White, spokesman for the United States Mint.

Throughout this pandemic, fewer customers have been using cash to shop to avoid hand-to-hand contact with store staff as well as just generally shopping less in brick-and-mortar businesses. That puts fewer coins into circulation, contributing to the shortage.

The majority of the nation’s coins — 83 percent — comes from the recirculated supply through businesses and third-party coin processors, White said.

New coins are minted in two locations by the U.S. Mint — Denver and Philadelphia. Both locations have been working at full production capacity, while keeping workers safe, since mid-June to mint new coins, White said.

They’ve ramped up the number of coins they usually produce as well. In June, the Mint produced almost 1.6 billion coins, and White said they are on track to produce 1.65 billion coins per month for the remainder of 2020 or an annual production of 19.8 billion circulating coins. Compare that with 12.4 billion in produced by the Mint in 2019.

Morning Call reporter Jennifer Sheehan can be reached at 610-820-6628 or jsheehan@mcall.com

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©2020 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

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