If you are like me, there is some container in your house filled with change. Maybe it’s the vacation fund, the lunch fund, the fun fund or maybe just the change used for your car wash, the laundromat or for the yard sale. Whichever it is, it’s a nice little container filled with a handful of change from here and there.
Well, that change could play a pretty important role these days. Wondering why? As a result of the pandemic, there is a shortage of coins throughout the country. While we were all in our lockdown phase, there were fewer folks spending money that required change. And that had a ripple effect on the circulation of change.
Couple that with the fact that the mints that make our coins were also on a slow down. Social distancing required fewer workers to be producing change, those pennies, dimes, nickels, quarters that are in the container right there in the corner of the room or on your shelf.
Because the production of coins slowed down, the coin inventory at the Federal Reserve, where coin inventory is managed, had less in stock and when the economies of the country opened, the demand to supply coins caused the Federal Reserve’s coin inventory to drop below its normal levels.
Banks and depository institutions request coins from the Federal Reserve. Since June 15 when requests are made, the Reserve bases its fulfillment based on the historical volume of coin orders and denominations.
This disruption is probably one that you, like me, never even considered as we addressed all the other things that a pandemic ripple effect brought to light. The request of places such as WaWa is that if you have change and you can exchange it with the store for cash, then please do! If you are paying for something, don’t be surprised if there is a request to pay the exact amount, including your change or to simply pay by credit card as not to stretch the coin supplies even lower.
I have taken to paying for some things simply with coins. I am certain that the cashier who got my 52 pennies along with the nickel and nickel and dime I paid with was thrilled. She may not have been totally thrilled but I’m guessing her manager was happier when the supply of pennies increased!
According to the Federal Reserve, a U.S. Coin Task Force was convened earlier in June. It is made up of representatives from the U.S. Mint, Federal reserve, Armored Carriers, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers Association, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Coin Aggregator representatives and the Retail Trade Industry.
Their task is to work together to "identify, implement and promote actions to reduce the consequence and duration of COVD-19 related disruptions to normal coin circulation."
Now that’s a big responsibility and one I never would have imagined I would hear about in my lifetime. But not to worry, the first set of recommendations is due out in July. In the meantime, you might just see the Federal Reserve’s social media hashtag campaign, #getcoinmoving. As for me, I’ll just count my lucky pennies for the time being!