cost to make a penny

Why Is The US Mint Still Making Pennies?

by Tim on December 5, 2011

Have you ever heard that it costs more to make a penny than it’s worth?  That’s actually true!

According to the US Currency budget report, the increase in the price for base metals (copper, nickel and zinc) climbed from five-year lows, reaching near record highs.

What’s all this mean?

It means that the cost to make pennies and other coins has increased significantly.  Just take a look at the increase in the cost of the base metals from 2009 to 2010.

  • Copper – Up 56.9%
  • Zinc   –    Up 52.4%
  • Nickel –  Up 55.8%

These spikes in base metal costs caused the unit cost of coins to increase as well.


The 2010 figures are the most recent provided by the US Mint budget.

The cost to produce a penny: $0.0179

The cost to produce a nickel: $0.0922

The cost to make a penny and a nickel are a little over eleven cents for the two of them.  That’s right, the US Mint pays $0.11 to creat $0.06 worth of money when they stamp out a penny and a nickel.  That math doesn’t add up…  If the costs of these metals continue to increase, it’s only a matter of time until a decision is made to cut these coins.

What do you think?  Should we continue to create the penny and nickel even though the US Mint loses money on them?

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