With Zinc Up, Pennies Lost Even More Taxpayer Money to Produce in 2016

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The cost to produce the penny rose to 1.5 cents in the 2016 fiscal year, U.S. Mint spokesman Tom Jurkowsky recently said. That’s the first time costs have been up since 2011, but still just the latest in a string of losses for the most abundant but least valuable coin in circulation.

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In fiscal 2015 the cost was 1.43 cents; in 2014, it was 1.66 cents. The latest figures will be released in the Mint’s upcoming annual report.

For now, Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver will continue to stamp out the zinc slugs with a copper coat. In fiscal 2015, they churned out 9.16 billion pennies—more than the nickel (1.48 billion), dime (2.87 billion) and quarter (2.65 billion) combined. The Mint traditionally makes money on the dime and quarter. The combined fiscal weight of materials and overhead sink the penny and nickel, both of which are made of zinc slugs with a fine sheen of copper and nickel, respectively. We’ve documented how the penny and nickel cost more to produce than they are worth before.

Congress would have to pass a law to stop producing either the penny or the nickel.

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