We Lost $105M Making Pennies, Nickels

Time to take the nickel out of nickels?

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2014 4:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – Making small change was a big money-loser for the US Mint—and the American taxpayer—last year for the eighth year in a row, with the loss from making pennies and nickels adding up to $105 million. Rising metal prices have made the cost of minting the coins rise to nearly double their face value and this is the third year in a row the loss on small coins has topped $100 million, a hit big enough to catch the eye of budget-cutters on Capitol Hill, the Washington Post finds.

President Obama mentioned the possibility of using cheaper metals to make the coins in his budget last week, Reuters notes, but he will face stiff opposition from industry groups, especially the zinc producers who provide 97.5% of what goes into a penny. Some policymakers are looking north of the border for ideas: Canadian nickels, which still cost less than face value to make, are 95% steel and just 2% nickel, compared to 25% nickel in the US version, and the country got rid of the penny last year.

The government has been losing money on these since 2006.
The government has been losing money on these since 2006.   (Shutterstock)
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