By Jenna Gyimesi via AARP
How the pandemic impacted pocket change—plus, why it’s time to empty your penny jar
Where’d They Go?
It wasn’t just toilet paper and hand sanitizer that became scarce last year. The COVID-19 crisis resulted in an alarming shortage of coins. With people spending less in person and turning more often to plastic in hopes of staying virus free, banks and retailers found themselves extremely low on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
Increase in the number of circulating coins produced by the U.S. Mint in 2020, to fortify the national supply
IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY
Cost to produce and distribute a …
Nickel: 7.42 cents
Quarter: 8.62 cents
Dime: 3.73 cents
Penny: 1.76 cents
ONE FREE SLURPEE
What some 7-Eleven stores offered to people who traded in $5 worth of rolled coins for cash
COVID-19 and Coins
How long the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority quarantined coins and cash in sealed containers last year before returning the currency to circulation
Less than 1 in 10,000
The risk of contracting COVID-19 from a contaminated surface, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; there is currently no evidence to confirm or disprove that COVID-19 can be transmitted through coins, notes the World Health Organization.
4 GOOD REASONS TO LOOK THROUGH YOUR COIN STASH
1. 2005 Kansas state quarter that reads “In God We Rust”
Value: Up to $100
2. 2004 Wisconsin state quarter with an extra leaf
Value: Up to $1,500
3. 1955 “double die” penny; Lincoln looks the same, but “1955” and “Liberty” appear to have shadows.
Value: Up to $1,800
4. 1943 copper penny; that year the Mint produced all but a literal handful of pennies from zinc-coated steel.
Auction price: $1.7 million in 2010
Credits, from top: Illustrations by Eden Weingart; chart source: U.S. Mint; Jar of coins: Jamie Chung; “4 Good Reasons …,” from top: Courtesy Ishmael Lopez; Alamy; Courtesy West Coast Coins; Alamy