A more comprehensive analysis of the 2021 U.S. Mint Report comes from Louis Golino "The Coin Analyst" at CoinWeek.
This is just an excerpt related to the cent - be sure to read the complete article online.
While the Mint managed to generate seigniorage and net income from all coins that totaled $556.4 million (including $381.20 million
from circulating coins), this represented a decrease of 30% compared to the prior year.
The main reason for that is that the cost to produce the cent rose to 2.1 cents and the nickel to 8.52 cents from 1.76 and 7.42 cents respectively the prior year due to rising zinc and copper costs. In addition, shipments of pennies and quarter dollars decreased during this period.
Despite ongoing calls to follow most other countries and eliminate the one-cent coin, there are no plans to do that in the U.S. or to cease production of nickels–neither of which has much purchasing power today. The reason for this situation remains unclear but may be related to sentimental attachment to the Lincoln penny and opposition from some to rounding transactions up or down as would be required if those coins were eliminated. Others claim that the zinc industry opposes the move (cents are mostly made of zinc today). Besides, if we only get rid of the penny, that means making more nickels, which would still be produced at a loss. If it were up to your columnist, we'd just make both coins for collectors.
In addition, the United States Mint continues to explore the possibility of making those coins from alternative metals or even plastic (as it has since the 1974 aluminum cent), but so far no solution has been found that would substantially decrease total costs.
NOTE: Louis provided an update to the article's first sentence to clarify the components of seigniorage and net income. The CoinWeek version may not yet have this revision, but it should be on the way.
To read the complete article, see:
The Coin Analyst: 2021 Was a Banner Year for the United States Mint
Wayne Homren, Editor
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