The United States Mint has released its 2021 Annual Report to the public. You can read the highlights here on USCoinNews. One of the key areas of the in the report is the “Cost of Producing and Distributing Coins by Denomination” which is found on page 12 of the report. The most telling – and damning – figure in coin production costs section of the report is the reported two cents that it costs the United States Mint to produce a Lincoln Cent.
According to the report, the Lincoln Cent now costs the Mint .0210 Cents to produce. This is up from the .0176 Cents it cost the Mint in 2020. This figure accounts for all aspects of the cent including:
- Costs of Good Sold (.0181 Cents)
- Sales, General & Administrative (.0026 Cents)
- Distribution to Federal Reserve Banks (.0003 Cents)
Add all of this up and you get to .0210 Cents per Cent to produce.
The news isn’t much better for the Jefferson Nickel. Production of the Five Cent piece in 2021 cost the Mint .0852 Cents, considering the same factors above for the Lincoln Cent.
There is good news in that the Mint profited from the Roosevelt Dime (cost of .0439 Cents), the Washington Quarter (cost of .0963 Cents) and the Kennedy half dollar (cost of .1167 cents).
Undoubtedly, this report will cause some debate both within the government as well as the numismatic community on the value of retaining the Cent in circulation. The Mint could move the Cent to a collectors only coin, much like the Kennedy half dollar had been for the last twenty years until this year. That change, however, would require all businesses to round costs and sales to the nearest five cent ($19.95 versus $19.99 for example) which not only requires pricing changes, but software changes to Point of Sale terminals to support it.
It is not an easy task and with other more pressing matters facing the United States government, this one is likely to not even make it to the back burner of the stove.