Two-Thirds of Americans Back the Penny; Most Dislike the Dollar Coin

Contact: Mark W. Weller
(202) 312-7426

December 18, 2002—Americans' loyalty to the penny is extremely strong according to a recent report released by the General Accounting Office (GAO).  "We're pleased to see the GAO confirm what we've been saying about the penny's popularity," said Mark W. Weller, Executive Director of Americans for Common Cents (ACC).  Weller's group includes more than 50 organizations that support continued production of the penny.

According to a GAO study released December 17, 64% of Americans believe the U.S. Mint should continue to produce the one-cent coin, compared to two-thirds of Americans who oppose replacing the dollar bill with the dollar coin.  The GAO conducted the study at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee to determine the public's opinions on coin circulation and design.  The study questioned respondents on whether the penny, nickel and dime should be redesigned to encourage public interest.

A survey conducted by Gallup found that 92% of Americans were satisfied with current coin denominations and coin designs.

ACC's Weller noted that a majority of those polled (56%) were opposed to rounding cash transactions.  "The alternative to the penny is rounding – something that Americans abhor," Weller said.  Research conducted by ACC suggests the public would be hit with a $600 million "rounding tax" if the penny is eliminated from circulation.

Despite the best efforts of the Mint to promote the dollar coin, the public's rejection of the coin is well documented.  Weller said the Mint intended to produce a limited number of dollar coins in early 2002, but the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury Department thought further production was not needed and ordered a halt, leaving an inventory of three-and-a-half years of dollar coins in storage. "The GAO finding that two-thirds of Americans oppose replacing the dollar bill with a coin is not surprising," according to Weller.

"Americans were pleased with their mix of paper notes and coinage before the dollar coin was forced on them," Weller said.  The federal government's experiences with the metric system, the Susan B. Anthony coin, and now the Sacagawea dollar coin, suggest that changes imposed without the public's acceptance fail miserably.

"A dollar coin has been tried three times since the Coolidge Administration – each time it's failed. It was destined to fail like its Susan B. Anthony dollar coin ancestor," Weller concluded.

Americans for Common Cents is a broad-based coalition of business and charitable organizations dedicated to keeping the penny.  ACC was formed in 1990 in response to Congressional threats to eliminate the one-cent coin (