We are all taught the financial value of valuing and saving every last penny. This rule apparently does not apply to the U.S. government — at least, not to the U.S. Mint. The cost of producing pennies and nickels is greater than what the coins themselves are worth.
According to the most recent numbers from the United States Mint, the cost of producing each one-cent penny is 2.06 cents, and each five-cent nickel sets the government back 7.53 cents.
The costs fluctuate with the market price of the metals that make up the coins. In 2011, the cost of producing pennies reached its peak of 2.41 cents per coin before copper prices retreated. Other factors that affect the cost of each coin include the overhead expenses of administration and distribution, as seen in the chart below.
The disparity between face value and actual costs means that American taxpayers lost about $85.4 million from penny production and $33.5 million from nickel production in fiscal year 2018.
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Read more examples of government waste.