Making ‘cents’ of US coin shortage


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — There’s a coin shortage in the U.S.

“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has gotten all — it’s kind of stopped,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday during a virtual hearing with the House Financial Services Committee.

Some businesses are asking customers to pay with exact change, or use a debit or credit card if possible.

The shortage is caused, in part, by the mass closings of U.S. businesses or changes in business operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in fewer coins reaching the public.

“The mints are not producing as much coin because they are trying to keep their employees safe,” said Mickey Adams, branch manager at Northshore Bank in Wisconsin. “So the circulation has gone down.”

She added that, during the coronavirus pandemic, customers and businesses have had to use ATMs. In turn, retail and commercial customers couldn’t have their coins counted, which also contributed to the shortage.

If there’s not enough change, retailers might have to “round up” to the next full dollar amount on transactions and, with so many businesses already struggling, many can’t spare a dime.

“So what we are doing right now to correct the issue is we are recycling our coin that we are taking in and we will use that in place of having to use all the rolled coin,” Adams said.

Rose Poels, president of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, said the shortage may be shortlived.

“The U.S. Mint has increased production, and it is expected within a few weeks that the supply will get back to normal due to the increased coin circulation,” Poels said.

In the meantime, local banks like Northshore are making adjustments.

“We’re hoping by encouraging customers and non-customers to come in, we will count their coin for free, we think that may help with the circulation issue,” Adams said.

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