Who would have ever thought there would be a coin shortage across America? Every day we see customers cash in bags of coins, most of us probably have a jar sitting on a dresser and many have started their children’s savings with a piggybank. So how did this happen, how can we explain to customers that the bank, of all places, does not have extra coin?

The coin shortage is the result of a surprising domino effect of Covid-19. Suddenly stores are not able to give back exact change and have started asking customers to pay with credit and debit cards. Laundromats are seeing a decrease in coin usage and increase in point cards or credits. Some stores are asking customers to round up and give to charity programs set up to stop the need for change. With fewer vehicles on the road, tollbooths have seen unforeseen decreases in tolls collected and many drivers are signing up for systems like Illinois I-Pass.

One of the reasons for the coin shortage is with the partial closure of the economy, the Federal Reserve implemented staffing cutbacks which slowed the production of new coin and distribution of coin throughout the United States. Additionally, consumers are being encouraged to use credit cards and debit cards to limit the use of coin and currency to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

In order to address the coin shortage situation,  the Federal Reserve began a U.S. Coin Task Force with representatives from a wide range of organizations, including the U.S. Mint, Federal Reserve Bank, Armored Carriers, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers Association, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Coin Aggregator representatives and the Retail Trade Industry. The Task Force is working to identify, implement and promote actions to reduce the disruptions to normal coin circulation caused by the Covid-19 partial economic shutdown.

The Federal Reserve is using social media to promote the circulation of coins with the hashtag #getcoinmoving. It’s time to empty out the cookie jars, piggybanks, cup trays in cars and couch cushions. Some of you may remember the saying, “Brother can you spare a dime?”  Well Uncle Sam is asking now, but we need your pennies, nickels, and quarters as well.

Eric Wendt

Branch Manager

Byline Bank