The Investigators

Feb 12, 2012 11:59 PM

Does making cents make sense?

TUCSON - Did you know it costs the government 2.41 to mint a penny? And it takes more than 11 pennies for the mint to forge a nickel.

Some people find spare change a nuisance and it's time for change. They want to retire the penny. But others say it's essential for our economy.

There are two sides to every coin and two sides to this story.

"The value of the time we waste handling pennies is just worth more than the value of the penny itself."

Jeff Gore founded Citizens for Retiring the Penny.

He cites studies showing just how much time penny-pinching pinches people's time.

"These things really add up over the course of a year to a couple hours a year we each waste handling pennies."

But Mark Weller with Americans for Common Cents has several reasons to keep Abe Lincoln's copper countenance around.

For one, pennies are popular.

"Two thirds to three quarters of Americans want the penny and I think that's primarily an economic issue. They realize that if you are rounding to the nickel for transactions that's a loser for consumers."

Technology is also cashing out change.

These days people are using credit and debit cards at vending machines and in stores to buy the same items that used to have us fishing for change.

Even parking is going coinless. Some meters don't accept coins, only debit or credit cards. You can even pay for parking with your smart phone.

Weller says that's bad for consumers too as they pay out more in interest and fees.

Gore claims it doesn't make sense to divide prices down to cents any longer. Special interests keep the penny in circulation

"Most of the penny is actually zinc. It's only copper coated," explains Gore. "The zinc industry has a strong incentive to encourage the government to continue the government to mint the penny."

"Americans benefit when you have a low denomination coin," says Weller and we really don't care what it's made out of."

The U.S Mint tells us they have until the end of the year to come up with cheaper ways to mint coins such as switching to all metal. Canada has already done that.

So what do you think? We posted the question on the News 4 Investigators Facebook page. Click here and tell us if you think the penny is a nuisance or you think the mint should keep on making them.

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