What is Behind the Nation’s Coin Shortage?

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The Covid19 pandemic is seemingly claiming another group of victims: quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes.

The country is facing a coin shortage because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell.

“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of funds through the economy has stopped,” Powell said during a virtual Congressional hearing this week. “We are working with the Mint and the Reserve Banks and as the economy re-opens we are starting to see money move around again.”

“The COVID‐19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin,” a statement by Reserve Banks and The Federal Reserve read last month.

“In the past few months, coin deposits from depository institutions to the Federal Reserve have declined significantly and the U.S. Mint’s production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees.”

It’s unclear what those protections were and why they were necessary to put in place to keep employees protected. Or why it applies to coins specifically and not cash, for example.

There has been a concerted campaign to drive consumers to use digital forms of payment for several months and it seems the coronavirus has only accelerated that campaign.

Photo by Salvo Cirmi

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