US Mint Coin Production in July Tops 1.6 Billion

by Mike Unser on August 19, 2015 · 6 comments

Role of JFK Presidential $1 Coins

US Mint production of circulating quality coins advanced by more than 1.6 billion in July

United States Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver struck slightly fewer coins in July than the previous month but sharply more than a year earlier, circulating coin production figures published by the agency reveal.

U.S. Mint coining presses last month hammered out more than 1.6 billion in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars. The tally is 0.5% less than the prior month but 25.1% more than the same time a year ago. Here’s how the month compares against others in the past year:

2014 – 2015 July Coin Production Figures

Month Mintages Rank
July 1,665.76 M 3
June 2015 1,673.95 M 2
May 2015 1,459.86 M 5
April 2015 1,696.56 M 1
March 2015 1,403.44 M 6
February 2015 1,277.96 M 8
January 2015 1,539.15 M 4
December 2014 878.84 M 13
November 2014 958.78 M 11
October 2014 1,168.78 M 9
September 2014 1,004.24 M 10
August 2014 913.38 M 12
July 2014 1,331.34 M 7

 

Pennies cost more to make and distribute (1.7 cents) than they’re worth, yet the Federal Reserve always orders more of them from the Mint than any other denomination. In July, the Mint struck 882.8 million Lincoln cents, representing 53% of the circulating-quality coins produced for the month.

In the latest month-over-month production comparisons for coins used every day by Americans, July saw:

  • 3.4% few Lincoln cents,
  • 7% fewer Jefferson nickels,
  • 3.8% fewer Roosevelt dimes, and
  • 17% more America the Beautiful Quarters.

Presidential $1 Coins, Native American $1 Coins and Kennedy half-dollars are no longer ordered by Federal Reserve Banks but the United States Mint continues to make them in circulating-quality for coin collectors.

In January, the U.S. Mint produced 2015 Kennedy halves to the expected amounts needed for the entire year. That is typically how it works for Native American $1 Coins as well but in March their number grew slightly. In July, the Mint continued to strike Presidential $1 Coins in modest amounts to support two of this year’s four different designs. Here’s a summary of all the circulating-quality coins produced last month:

US Mint Circulating Coin Production in July 2015

Denomination Denver Philadelphia Total
Lincoln Cents 441,200,000 441,600,000 882,800,000
Jefferson Nickels 84,000,000 69,840,000 153,840,000
Roosevelt Dimes 161,500,000 151,500,000 313,000,000
2015 ATB Quarters 202,600,000 112,400,000 315,000,000
Kennedy Half Dollars 0 0 0
Native American $1s 0 0 0
Presidential Dollars 1,120,000 0 1,120,000
Total 890,420,000 775,340,000 1,665,760,000

 

U.S. Mint production facilities are located in Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco and West Point. That said, only the Denver Mint and Philadelphia Mint manufacture America’s coins for commerce. Last month, the Denver Mint produced 890.42 million coins and the Philadelphia Mint made 775.34 million coins.

For the January through July period, the Denver Mint struck over 5.5 billion coins and the Philadelphia Mint made more than 5.1 billion for a combined 10,716,710,000. That’s a 28.2% increase over the 8,359,740,000 coins minted through the same months in 2014. This next table lists year-to-date coin totals by denomination:

YTD 2015 Circulating Coin Production by Denomination

1 ¢ 5 ¢ 10 ¢ 25 ¢ 50 ¢ N.A. $1 Pres $1 Total
Denver 2958M 545.28M 993M 1062M 2.3M 2.24M 15.97M 5578.79M
Philadelphia 2852M 447.36M 931M 881.6M 2.3M 2.8M 20.86M 5137.92M
Total 5810M 992.64M 1924M 1943.6M 4.6M 5.04M 36.83M 10716.71M

 

If the current monthly average of 1.5 billion coins is maintained through December, this year’s annual production total will reach nearly 18.4 billion coins. Such a level has not been hit since 2001 when the United States Mint pressed over 19.4 billion coins.

Last year, the U.S. Mint produced just over 13.28 billion circulating coins, the most since the 14.4 billion coins in 2007. Because of this year’s quickened pace, the agency is expanding operations and hiring more personnel.

Coin Design Mintages

Outside of additional JFK dollars (+840,000) and LBJ dollars (+280,000) — all logged as Denver Mint production increases, mintage levels remained unchanged in July for 2015-dated coins featuring one-year-only designs. The following table offers a breakdown of this year’s mintages by coin design:

2015 Circulating Coin Production by Design

  Denver Philadelphia Total
Lincoln Cents 2,958,000,000 2,852,000,000 5,810,000,000
Jefferson Nickels 545,280,000 447,360,000 992,640,000
Roosevelt Dimes 993,000,000 931,000,000 1,924,000,000
Homestead National Monument of America Quarter 248,600,000 214,400,000 463,000,000
Kisatchie National Forest Quarter 379,600,000 397,200,000 776,800,000
Blue Ridge Parkway Quarter
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter
Saratoga National Historical Park Quarter
Kennedy Half Dollars 2,300,000 2,300,000 4,600,000
Native American $1 2,240,000 2,800,000 5,040,000
Harry S. Truman $1 3,500,000 4,900,000 8,400,000
Dwight D. Eisenhower $1 3,646,000 4,900,000 8,546,000
John F. Kennedy $1 5,180,000 6,160,000 11,340,000
Lyndon B. Johnson $1 3,640,000 4,900,000 8,540,000
Total 5,144,986,000 4,867,920,000 10,012,906,000

 

Like in the prior two months, there is one difference when subtracting totals by coin design from those by denomination. Mintages of America the Beautiful Quarters are higher by 703.8 million. These are Blue Ridge Parkway quarters for North Carolina. The United States Mint started selling bags and rolls of the coins on June 29. The Mint should soon be moving onto making Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge quarters since they launch into circulation next month.

Coin production figures in this coin news article are based on data aggregated from the U.S. Mint webpage at: http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/?action=ProductionFigures.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David August 19, 2015 at 8:29 am

This is a good sign for the economy. Historically looking at coin production gives an indication of economic activity. If production starts falling it is a good sign of trouble brewing. Production dropped throughout 2008 giving a lead warning of trouble that year. While this isn’t a sure thing, its nice to see the numbers going up instead of down.

Munzen August 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm

David: Can we be the only two people who ever noticed this connection? I’ve observed it for years, as well as a relationship between economic well-being and how often older-date bills turn up in circulation, but I’ve never seen the idea mentioned in general economic articles.

It would be interesting to see how those numbers might change if the US ever decides to join the rest of the industrialized world by eliminating the penny and using $1 and $2 coins…..

Vachon August 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

But is the idea sound overall? Production of coins practically halted for three years in 1931-1933. Afterward production rebounded sharply but economists say the Great Depression did not end until the U.S.’s entry into World War II (when coin production really shot up).

I agree that the initial drop in 2008 was a harbinger and the huge production drop in 2009 demonstrated a problem fully manifested, but I’m not so sure the higher production of the following years necessarily means things have gotten better otherwise one could claim, based on coin mintages that the Great Depression ended in 1934.

But 2015 may be a good sign after all since production appears to be set up to be much higher than last year’s…though I wonder how inflation factors into all this. Coins have virtually no purchasing power anymore and ridiculously high attrition rates so is any denomination a fair bellwether for the economy anymore? If it be quarters then this year would certainly suggest banner year…

R. L. Anderson August 20, 2015 at 3:27 am

How much would it cost today to make Pennies out of copper again? Didn’t they wear better than the stuff we have today? What are the copper ones worth now compared to the new ones with their metal content?

I have a problem with vision as a disabled American Veteran, but I sure can tell right away the difference between the two when I pick them up. It’s the same with the other coins how I can tellthe difference between the older 90% silver
coins and the stuff we make today. That’s really easy. The old ones have got to be a heck of a lot better I would think to last longer, does anyone know? The only ones that I can ‘t tell the difference with only a few years is the 1942 -1945 Nickel.

Not too long ago, maybe 6 – 7 weeks in my change I could “feel” that there was something wrong I thought in a Quarter I got in change at the store. At first I thought that there was some kind of crud stuck on it. My wife collects coins like that and I’m always surprised at some of the errors in some of them. A lot more than I would have ever thought are done like that.

David August 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

Those are all valid questions. Add payment method to the list (cash, credit, debit, smart phone) and you get another variable that’s hard to account for. Even though a penny is not worth anything, I think it still measures the amount of cash transactions in the economy, especially since a lot of people just throw what they get in a jar and then forget about it. I don’t think the production figures can be used to time the economy, but I do think in the short run they give another signal to look at. If the numbers start falling rapidly that probably means merchants are ordering less or consumers are start to recycle more.

Besides, I just like coins and numbers so this stuff is fun to think about.

Munzen August 21, 2015 at 10:28 am

In response to R. L. Anderson:
First let me thank you for your service.to our country!

As both a collector and someone with a family member who has impaired vision I understand your questions. Unfortunately modern economics mean it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see circulating silver and copper (well, bronze) coins again.

Even lowly copper has become too expensive for low-denomination coinage. Those countries that still mint copper-colored coins have switched to cheaper substrates with copper plating. In the case of our cents zinc itself is too expensive as well but the zinc lobby, Congress, and inertia are preventing either a switch to steel or elimination of the cent altogether.

Circulating silver coins are even more problematic. It would be impossible to put the genie of price deregulation back in the bottle worldwide. Any time that the price rose far enough above a coin’s face value they’d be vacuumed out circulation in a repeat of the Great Coin Melt of the 1960’s. The only reason imelting doesn’t happen with zinc cents is that the profit margin is too low, but as a precious metal silver is much more volatile and fungible.

And finally, silver is much softer than cupronickel, so coins would again wear out in 25-30 years instead of the 50+ that’s typical for current issues.

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