There Really Is No Coin Shortage, Honest!


Long before the current supply chain shortages and the current concern about the availability of bathroom paper products, including toilet paper, there was the coin shortage. The toilet paper shortage was the Real McCoy – just ask anyone who ran out of it last year. Fear of another toilet paper shortage has resulted in some chains imposing purchase limits on the stuff.

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Is there really a shortage of coins in the U.S., though? The answer is yes and no. Many stores, banks, restaurants, and other places that use currency will argue that there is a shortage, or at least that coins are in short supply, but there really is not a “coin shortage.”

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C/NET Money reports there are plenty of coins in circulation: “The Fed said it’s producing enough of them, minting 14.8 billion pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, 50-cent pieces and dollar coins in 2020, a 24 percent increase from the 11.9 billion coins produced in 2019.”

So where are they? You and I have them.

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The pandemic changed the way we spend money. According to the Fed, we held onto our cash and relied on credit cards during the pandemic. As a result, we hung on to our bills and coins rather than spend them. The coins are in home piggy banks, rolled and stashed under the sink, in the cup holders in our vehicles, and even under the couch cushions.

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The truth of the matter is there is no shortage of coins but there are a lot of coin hoarders. Intentionally or not, we have created this perceived shortage of coins and can end it quickly by cashing in all of our coins at the bank. If only heading off a toilet paper shortage was that easy.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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