Coin shortage: Minnesotans asked to use exact change or deposit coins at a bank

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a "critical slowdown" of coins nationwide.
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Minnesotans who have spare change lying around are being asked to spend it or deposit it at a bank.

That's because shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic have created a "critical slowdown" of coins nationwide, the Minnesota Bankers Association said in a news release this week. 

When restrictions went into place this spring, places where coins often enter society, like retail stores, bank branches and laundromats, closed down or shoppers switched to shopping online or using debit and credit cards to avoid physical contact, which significantly slowed the normal rate of coin circulation. 

“In the beginning of 2020, more than 4 billion coins were deposited, or recirculated, each month,” Joe Witt, the president/CEO of the Minnesota Bankers Association said in the release. “Those numbers dropped to less than 2 billion beginning in April.” 

Now that businesses are reopening as restrictions are being eased, merchants are finding they need to have more coins on hand, but a large number of coins still remain with the consumer. This is becoming a problem, the association says, because recirculated coins make up about 80 percent of the nation's coin supply.

“There is adequate coin in the economy, however the slowed pace of circulation means that a sufficient amount of coins may not be readily available where needed,” Witt said. 

As of April 2020, the U.S. Treasury estimates that the total value of coins in circulation is $47.8 billion, up from $47.4 billion as of April 2019, the association states. The Federal Reserve projects the gap between supply and demand is between 2.3 to 3.5 billion coins each month through the end of 2020.

To help get coins back into circulation, people can bring their coins to their local bank, which often have coin-counting machines or may accept rolled coins. People can also use exact change when out shopping, which will help put more coins into circulation. 

The Minnesota Bankers Association is a trade association that represents commercial banks in Minnesota.

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