NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

It Costs More to Make Pennies and Nickels than They're Worth

December 17, 2014

It costs the United States nearly twice as much to make a penny as that penny is actually worth, writes Christopher Ingraham for the Washington Post, reporting that it costs the government 1.7 cents to make a penny. And pennies aren't the only problem: it costs the government more than 8 cents to make a nickel.

A new report from the U.S. Mint reveals that it's still not cost-effective to make pennies and nickels. Pennies and nickels used to be profitable in the early 2000s, says Ingraham, but the cost of producing the coins began rising in 2006 and has only gone up. While currency costs fell overall this year due to declining copper prices, the two coins still cost more than their face value.

The rest of American currency is doing alright:

  • It costs 5.4 cents to make a dollar bill.
  • It costs 8.95 cents to make a quarter.
  • It costs 3.91 cents to make a dime.

Ingraham writes that America could save $100 million each year simply by getting rid of the penny and the nickel, noting that Americans lost $105 million in 2013 due to their production. While, alternatively, the United States could save money by changing coins' metal makeup, such a move would require vending machines to be upgraded across the country, costing billions.

Source: Christopher Ingraham, "It cost 1.7 cents to make a penny this year, and 8 cents to make a nickel," Washington Post, December 15, 2014.


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