The term “keep the change” takes on new meaning as the Federal Reserve announces a national coin shortage. The domino effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the flow of coins through our economy.
As a result, all City vending machine customers are asked to use a credit/debit card or exact change as much as possible when buying snacks and drinks. Without exact payment, machines may not be equipped to render correct change after your purchase.
THE PROBLEMThe primary issue is the dramatic slowing of coin exchange. As of April 2020, the U.S. Treasury estimates the total value of coin in circulation is $47.8 billion. While there is adequate coin in the economy, the slow use means that there are insufficient quantities available.
COVID-19 is upsetting the numbers of retail shops, bank branches, transit authorities and laundromats still open – typical places where coin enters our society. While the U.S. Mint actually produces new coin, the Federal Reserve distributes the hard money and monitors its inventory.
TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMThis month the Federal Reserve formed the U.S. Coin Task Force to reduce the consequences of the pandemic’s effects on normal coin circulation. One of their first strategies is to enlist support from consumers to use exact change or plastic as much as possible.
The Task Force also asked the Reserve to share available supplies of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to depository institutions as a temporary measure. The Federal Reserve is confident the coin inventory issues will resolve once the economy opens more broadly and the coin supply chain returns to normal circulation.
In the meantime, please pay attention to notices posted on or near vending machine in all City facilities – use a credit/debit card or exact change.