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US Mint director asks Americans to tackle national coin shortage

US Mint director asks Americans to tackle national coin shortage
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The director of the U.S. Mint on Monday asked Americans to help fight widespread coin shortages by using exact change for purchases and exchanging coins for cash at banks and kiosks.

In a video posted Monday on Twitter, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder called for actions that would help improve a breakdown in coin circulation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The sharp declines in economic activity and shift toward cashless payment options amid the pandemic has choked off the steady circulation of coins through U.S. businesses. Grocery stores and retailers across the U.S. have warned customers of shortages and have asked them to pay either in exact change or with credit cards to keep a meager supply of coins available.

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“I want to assure you that the men and women of the Mint workforce are working as hard as they possibly can to get newly produced coins into the economy,” Ryder said. “Right now, coins aren’t circulating through the economy as quickly as they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means sometimes coins are not readily available where needed. This is not a coin supply problem. This is a circulation problem and I am here to ask for your help.”

The national coin shortage may be merely a nuisance or novelty for Americans with access to credit cards and financial flexibility. But the coin shortages can pose serious challenges for those with only cash payment options and low-income individuals without the money to smooth over the differences.

Nearly 7 percent of Americans do not have bank accounts, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and there are still roughly 12 million Americans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic who have not yet returned to work, according to the July jobs report released by the Labor Department earlier this month.