Crisis causes coin shortage

 Photo: Diana Caballero
Photo: Diana Caballero (WJRT)
Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 4:12 PM EDT
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First it was toilet paper, now it's coins.

The economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 has taken all sorts of loose change out of the system, leaving some banks scrambling to find quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.

One of the factors leading to the coin shortage is that the U.S. Mint is producing fewer coins to protect employees from COVID-19.

"When you implement social distancing and stuff, you do have a little bit lower production capability. So the amount of coins the U.S. Mint has been able to supply to the Federal Reserve this year is lower than normal," said Pat Heller with Liberty Coin.

There's also the fact that many places haven't been doing business.

"What's happened is with the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has kind of stopped," said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Auntie Anne's in the Meridian Mall put up a sign that says please use exact change only. It says they may not be able to get more coins until mid-August. Liberty Coin in Lansing has also been affected.

"We have had problems getting some products for customers. There are many customers who want to cash and carry," said Heller.

Last week, the Federal Reserve put limits on how many coins banks can order. Some banks are asking people to bring in the change they have lying around their homes while others like PNC and Mercantile say they haven't seen much of a difference.

The Federal Reserve says this is a temporary situation and more coins should become available as the economy reopens.

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