The United States Mint has released its 2020 Biennial Report that it gave to Congress and has made public. For those not familiar with this report, it is required by the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-302. The Act requires the Secretary to conduct research and development (R&D) on alternative metallic materials for all circulating coins and to provide a biennial report to Congress on the status of coin production costs, cost trends for such production, and possible new metallic material or technologies for the production of circulating coinage.
While the report covers the general costs and research that the Mint is doing into coinage materials, the part of the report that interests most are the costs of production. The good news is that in the 2020 Biennial Report, the Mint was able to lower the costs of production on every coin in circulation when compared to 2019.
The Mint reports the cost of coin production in an “All-In” price. That it, the price includes the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), Selling, General & Administrative costs, and distribution to the Federal Reserve Banks. It is the real cost of the coin, not just the actual coin itself. For the Lincoln Cent, the cost associate with its production in 2020 was .0176 Cents per coin. That means the production of the coin costs more than the face value and has been the case for the Cent for the past 15 years. The good news is that costs went down from .199 Cents in 2019 and .206 Cents in 2018 according to the report.
For the Jefferson Nickel, it too was more costly to produce than its face value. In 2020, the 5-Cent piece cost .0742 Cents to produce, down from the .0762 in 2019 and the .0753 in 2018.
It is likely that over the next few weeks there will be murmurs once again of eliminate the Cent from circulation due to its costs. This, much like the report itself, is an annual debate amongst collectors. It is unlikely any change to our circulating coinage beyond designs will be changing any time soon.
For the third consecutive year, the Roosevelt Dime remained the same cost for the Mint. It cost .0373 Cents to produce the 10-cent piece, essentially covering the overages of the Lincoln Cent and Jefferson Nickel on its own. Meanwhile, the Washington Quarter Dollar costs decreased over last year. In 2020, the Quarter cost .0862 Cents to produce, down from the .0901 costs in 2019.
All in, the circulating coin values total .41 Cents. When adding up the costs of production, the Mint made .1947 Cents for each set of circulating coins. Nineteen cents may not sound like a lot but when you consider some 15 billion coins were made, that translates to roughly $2.92 billion in profit which the Mint uses for general operation costs, other Numismatic products, and R&D. Remember that the United States Mint is unique in its place in our government in that it is a department that can make money.
You can read the full report at the link above.