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Making Change: Do We Need Pennies?

When making money involves losing money

January 2024

Script

These days, your thoughts may be worth more than a penny.

Thanks to inflation, the one-cent piece is practically worthless.

How much has the penny’s value declined?

In 1900, a weekday edition of the New York Times cost just a cent.i Today, the paper costs $4.00.ii

The craziest part: Pennies actually cost us money.

America spends around three cents producing a single penny.iii

In other words, making one penny costs ... three pennies.

In 2022 alone, the United States lost over $93 million producing the coin.iv

So, why bother keeping it?

Critics say that eliminating the penny will cost Americans money because sellers will round their prices up.

But research suggests that while some sellers may round up, others would round down. And consumers would break even.v

Eliminating the penny would save the country a lot of money.

Even ‘Honest Abe’ would probably approve.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  1. It costs around three cents to produce a single penny.
  2. The United States lost over $93 million producing pennies in 2022 alone.
  3. Eliminating the penny likely wouldn’t raise costs for American consumers.

Sources

  1. "Reflections; 100 Years Ago, a Penny Bought the World" (Clyde Haberman) — New York Times 
  2. Monday, January 8, 2024 — New York Times
  3. 2022 Annual Report U.S. Mint
  4. 2022 Annual Report  U.S. Mint
  5. "Time To Eliminate the Penny From the U.S. Coinage System: New Evidence" (Robert Whaples)  Wake Forest University

Shownotes

SOUND: "Sippin on a Tea" (Colligan) 

FOOTAGE: Penny Production / Reverse Proof Penny (U.S. Mint, U.S. Department of the Treasury) // Grace Cary (Getty) // CITED SOURCES AND NEWS OUTLETS ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH AND HAVE NOT ENDORSED OR SPONSORED ANY PORTION OF THIS PRODUCTION. 

Sources

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