Got a dime? Businesses seek Treasury help with coin shortage

Got a dime you can spare? Coins are in short supply—again.

Retailers, laundromats and other businesses that rely on coins want Americans to empty their piggy banks and look under couch cushions for extra change and “get coin moving.”

A group of trade associations that represent individual businesses including banks, retail outlets, truck stops, grocery stores and more is asking the Treasury Department for more help convincing Americans to get coins back in circulation.

The consequences of the circulation slowdown hit people who don’t have an ability to pay for items electronically, they say.

“If retailers are not able to offer change for cash purchases consumers who rely on cash will be vulnerable,” the associations said in a letter to Treasury.

For example, people who do their laundry at coin laundry mats could have a harder time finding change to wash their clothes. And on a larger scale, people who don’t have cash access aren’t able to patronize certain card-only businesses.

It’s not a coin shortage America faces, but a lack of circulation.

“We can’t print our way out of this problem,” said Austen Jensen, a senior vice president for government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Jensen’s group, along with the American Bankers Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, and National Grocers Association, is trying to meet consumer demand and wants a new public campaign to increase coin circulation.

Jensen said his group is also encouraging member retailers to find creative ways to deal with the shortage of coins, including rounding-up purchases for charity promotions. And he says businesses with multiple locations could send coins from one store to another.

This is not the first time during the pandemic that the issue of low coin circulation has arisen.

The coronavirus disrupted consumers’ buying habits and shifted purchases largely to plastic cards to such an extent that in July 2020, the Federal Reserve restricted coin orders by financial institutions.

The Fed also convened a U.S. Coin Task Force, made up of representatives from various federal agencies, which led to a campaign encouraging the public to get coins into circulation.

This February, the task force issued a State of Coin report, which said pandemic lockdowns slowed small transactions that generated change and there was a temporary aversion to cash for perceived hygienic reasons. The report also said the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Mint contracted with a third party consultant to review the coin supply chain.

Coin deposit volumes began to increase gradually starting in the summer of 2020, but businesses say the problem has come up again as people have stopped using coins and have stuck to plastic cards.

The issue has had the biggest impact on people who don’t have bank accounts. An estimated 22 percent of U.S. Americans were “unbanked” or “underbanked” in 2019, according to the Federal Reserve.

The Treasury Department has yet to respond to the letter. The government encourages people to help get coin moving by spending it with retailers, taking it to their banks and credit unions, or using a coin recycling kiosk like the ones found at grocery stores.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

6 thoughts on “Got a dime? Businesses seek Treasury help with coin shortage

    1. If it’s propaganda it is very believable propaganda. I know that when I occasionally use cash for a transaction, I throw the coins in jar on the dresser. I only keep maybe $10 in that jar before it goes to the bank, but imagine if 100,000,000 people did this?

      There would be $1 Billion in coins out of circulation!

      I suspect it takes a little while to mint 4 billion quarters. I also suspect that there are many people that do like I used to do when I was much younger, and I would collect the coins until I had $400 or $500 worth before I cashed them in. It was like getting an extra paycheck once in while.

  1. There’s an easy remedy to this: discounts if you pay in ca$h. Of course, that’s too simple for the suits who think they know everything about how to make a buck but not how to solve simple problems. I think it would be hilarious to take a coffee can full of coins and pull it out when paying and there’s a long line.
    And on “Related Stories” (above): “Target seeks to lure workers in some areas with pay of up to $24 an hour”
    Instead of “up to”, which is is a maximum, they should specify the minimum – if the minimum is high enough, they’d have no problems getting people. “Up to” implies $7 is a possibility.

  2. I probably have $1,000.00 in change the problem is that everyone wants they have no way to receive it. I would take it to the bank but no banks want it unless it is rolled, sorry not going to happen. And I refuse to pay 7% fee!

    1. Check where you bank, Steve. There are at least two Hendricks County-based banks (Hendricks County Bank & Trust and State Bank) that have bulk coin counting machines that will tally bags of mixed coins with no fee IF you are a customer.

  3. So they say more people are using plastic? Then why the shortage? I did roll my coins about year ago though and did not take that much time. $400 worth.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}