The coronavirus pandemic has caused a nationwide coin shortage, according to the Federal Reserve. We’ve experienced shortages on toilet paper, Lysol, Lysol wipes, eggs, meat, and now coins. The supply of pocket change is pretty scarce.

According to USA Today, Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the shutdowns caused by the pandemic have raised concerns about the circulation of coins. First of all, you have the closure of the economy which means the flowing of funds came to a screeching halt. Where businesses were able to stay open, like restaurants offering to-go, many of them used contactless payment systems because of concerns about the spread of the viral infection on cash. Also because of the pandemic, many automatic coin-sorting machines that people typically use to cash in loose change were off-limits. All this said, the flow of coins through the economy kind of just stopped.

photo by Debbie Ray

Although many of us don’t think of change as a necessity, it is. Think about the grocery stores and convenience stores needing to make change for all of the cash-paying customers. The registers need the coins.

Jerome Powell says they are working with the Mint to increase supply, and they’re working with the reserve banks to get that supply where it needs to be. Powell thinks this is a temporary situation.