Is There a Coin Shortage?

Loose Coins


It’s a normal Monday morning and you’re getting coffee and a muffin on your way to work.  You’ve gone to a local store, made your purchases, and headed to the checkout counter only to be greeted by a sign that says “Exact Change Only Please.”  Being a diligent, prepared shopper, you are able to give exact change or pay with an alternate form of payment…But why doesn’t your local retailer have coin?  Is this another casualty of the current COVID-19 pandemic?


As you’ve probably heard, local retailers may be having difficulty making correct change recently.  Some are asking if you would like to round up your purchase and make a donation to a charity in lieu of coin.  Others are requesting you make purchases with debit or credit cards instead of cash.  You may wonder, have we as a nation stopped producing coins?  Can we not get the materials to make coin, or are money manufacturing facilities altering production to comply with health and safety guidelines?


We can assure you, there is no coin shortage, rather a circulation issue.  In fact the U.S. Mint, the Nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage, has been operating at full capacity since mid-June, producing 1.65 billion coins per month and is on schedule to continue producing the same amount through the remainder of the year.  So, if we are still producing the same amount of coins why isn’t coin readily available at some places?  Let’s take a moment to explain.


The U.S. Coin Task Force recently issued a statement expelling the rumor mill, in saying, “Many have referred to this as a shortage; however, it is not…There is approximately $48 billion in coin already in circulation, most of which is sitting dormant inside America’s 128 million households. As people have changed their spending habits, and coin-intensive businesses and financial institution lobbies have been less accessible, the nation’s coin is pooling in change jars, in car cup holders and in shuttered businesses, making it difficult for the businesses of this country to get the coin that they need to support cash transactions.”


Under normal business operations coin is transferred though thousands of transactions daily at your local restaurants, bars, grocery stores, gas stations, retail stores, etc.  In the current circumstances daily traffic to these businesses has been reduced or halted completely resulting in fewer transactions which leads to fewer coin disbursements.  This is really a circulation issue that is more prevalent in some areas more than others.  You may not have had difficulty receiving correct change in your daily purchases or only in certain areas.  All the coin circulated by normal consumer transactions has been slowed and as a result businesses are finding it difficult to replenish their coin stock to make change for purchases.


So what can you do to improve the coin circulation in your area?  The task force convened by the Federal Reserve is asking consumers to start putting coins back into back into circulation.  You can do this by spending coin you have at home (while observing coronavirus-related precautions), deposit coins at your financial institution and redeem coins at retail coin kiosks.  They are also urging people to use the hashtag, #getcoinmoving in social media posts to help spread the word regarding the coin shortage.  For more information you can visit the U.S. Mint at


If you have spare change collecting in your own penny bank, Murphy-Wall State Bank will exchange your coin for cash with a 10% fee. However, this service is offered free of charge to customers with accounts with us.


Murphy-Wall State Bank and Trust Company is an independent bank that traces roots back to 1874.  It serves Pinckneyville, Murphysboro, Elkville, Carterville, and Marion, along with Perry, Jackson and Williamson Counties and Southern Illinois with a variety of banking services.  Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.  Learn more at and Like Us on Facebook.