Are U.S. Nickels In for a Change?

How much money goes into making a penny? What about a nickel? More than what a penny and a nickel are actually worth, it turns out: It costs 1.8 cents and 9.4 cents, respectively, and results in $104.5 million worth of expenses for the United States. As a result, the U.S. Mint is looking into a possible change to the construction of the nickel — though not the penny — changes that would alter the color and weight of the coin.

It’s foolish. It’s going to hurt so many people,” said John Shultz, executive vice president of the American Amusement Machine Association, to The Wall Street Journal. The group acts as representation for a number of interests that would be affected by a coin change, such as jukeboxes, video games, and pool tables.

According to the Journal, the nickel would retain its diameter and its thickness, meaning that services utilizing a coin slot would have fewer concerns. Unfortunately, even with those dimensions kept constant, a change in the makeup of the coin would result in enormous costs for industry that use coins — everything form laundromats to parking meters.

“We work in an industry that has very low profit margins, it is very difficult to raise our prices and compete with other channels,” said Eric Dell, senior vice president of government affairs with the National Automatic Merchandising Association, to The Wall Street Journal.

Before embarking on any big changes, however, there’s a great deal of testing that needs to be done on the six possible alloys that could be used. “So far the results are good for the majority of the materials,” said Uvon Tolbert to The Wall Street Journal. At present, the nickel is made up of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, a combination that has been the norm since 1866, excusing a short time during World War II.

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