The U.S. Mint isn’t about to tell its workers in Philadelphia and Denver to take a six-month vacation, but it could judging from the coin demand target it is aiming for
The Federal Reserve System has placed orders for just 3 billion coins in 2009, down over 70 percent from the 2008 production level of 10.1 billion.
With approximately 1.2 billion coins struck already in the first three months of the year, that leaves eight months into which to divide production of just 1.8 billion coins. In the year 2000 the Mint was striking more than that per month.
The Mint says it will build a coin inventory, but unless the Treasury plans to stockpile the current commemorative Lincoln cents as it once did Morgan silver dollars, with its current business approach, it is hard to envisage the Mint going too far beyond projected coin needs.
Current workers, though, will embark on a six-month productivity maintenance effort that will assure future capacity. The Mint will also undertake capital improvements and maintenance that would be difficult to do with presses operating at a more normal pace.
A hiring freeze also has been imposed.
Already there is a scramble by collectors to acquire 2009 pieces because of their perceived scarcity. These target can only increase that perception.