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Verify: Is the U.S. experiencing another coin shortage?

Our sources are the Federal Reserve, U.S. Mint and Coinstar.
Credit: WQAD

MOLINE, Ill. — You may have noticed signs returning to stores saying there is another coin shortage. News 8's David Bohlman wanted to verify if that's truly the case or if it's another issue that could be solved with common 'cents'.

The Question: "Is there a change shortage?" 

During the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic signs went up at stores citing a nationwide coin shortage. The U.S. Mint said at the time it was because of business closures which had a domino effect ultimately halting the spending habits of Americans.

Our Sources:
The Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System, The U.S. Mint, and Coinstar, a nationwide leader in coin counting.

According to the Federal Reserve, during the summer of 2020 "a temporary cap was imposed" on on banks to be sure that cash and coins were distributed fairly. These caps were reinstated in May of 2021 "because coin circulation patterns have not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels."

The U.S. Mint has been operating at "full production capacity. In 2020, the Mint produced 14.8 billion coins, a 24 percent increase from the 11.9 billion coins produced in 2019."

Coinstar says a potential $18 billion in coins are likely being kept in homes across the nation. The coin-cashing business issued the following statement: 

"As the economy has begun to reopen, the demand for coin has increased.  While Mint production is up, it is not currently satisfying demand which led to the Federal Reserve’s decision to start allocating various denominations to depository institutions in May. However, Coinstar estimates approximately $18 billion coins are idle, likely in people’s homes. Until consumers’ normal coin recycling habits return, we may experience these coin circulation issues going forward, similar to last year, which will negatively impact consumers that primarily use cash at the point of sale."

If that spare change was spent at local businesses or deposited to financial institutions, it could help rebound from the circulation issue. 

The Answer: 

So we can verify that no, there isn't a nationwide coin shortage happening right now, but there is a circulation issue.

Want us to verify something? Either fill out the form below, send us details via email to Verify@WQAD.com, or text the word "VERIFY" to 309-304-0888.