Americans for Common Cents (ACC) conducts research and provides information to Congress and the Executive Branch on the value and benefits of the penny.

Americans Overwhelmingly Favor Keeping the Penny in Two Recent Polls-Costly Price Rounding a Concern

To: National Circuit

Contact: Mark W. Weller or Matthew J. Eggers, Americans for Common Cents (www.pennies.org); (202) 312-7426

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 — A poll released today by Americans for Common Cents shows strong backing for the one-cent coin or Lincoln penny by the American public.  The vast majority of those surveyed (69%) favored keeping the penny in circulation.

“These results confirm the unwavering support the penny receives from most Americans, and they cast a big cloud over anti-penny legislation introduced this summer by Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona,” said Mark W. Weller, the Executive Director of Americans for Common Cents.  “Americans understand that eliminating the penny will lead to price rounding — typically upward — costing consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually in higher prices,” Weller said.  “Keeping the penny in circulation acts as a hedge to inflation and is something that the American people want.  The Kolbe bill would upend the government’s ongoing efforts to tamp down rising inflation rates,” Weller added.

Results of the poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC), show that:

* 69% of Americans favor keeping the penny in circulation, which is virtually identical to what Americans reported (71%) to ORC in 2001;
* 64% of respondents oppose eliminating the penny and establishing a price rounding system; and
* 70% expressed concern that if the government implements rounding schemes for cash purchases, merchants might take the opportunity to raise prices rather than lose pennies when rounding down, with minority Americans expressing most concern.

Research by Dr. Raymond Lombra, Professor of Economics at Penn State University, confirms these concerns.  He found that eliminating the penny would cost consumers more than $600 million every year since transaction prices would increase over 60% of the time without the penny.

Public support for the one-cent coin increases when people are made aware of higher consumer prices that result from price rounding.  Coinstar, Inc. released a poll earlier in August showing that support for the penny has surged to 79% as Congress considers the Kolbe bill.  A  February 2006 Coinstar poll showed 66% of Americans favor keeping the penny.

A principal with Coinstar noted that when Americans become educated about the issues around the penny, like rounding at the cash register and new solutions to lower production costs, they seem to be more inclined to keep the penny, as evidenced by the 13-point increase over last year. Only 15% favor discontinuing use of the penny, they found.  What’s more, nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) continue to feel the penny should be retained as an important symbol of American culture, history, and the economy.

Americans for Common Cents is a broad-based coalition of business, numismatic, and charitable organizations dedicated to keeping the penny.  The coalition was formed in 1990 in response to Congressional threats to eliminate the coin.  Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey, surveyed a national sample of 1,018 adults, comprised of 504 men and 514 women by phone.  Interviewing for this survey was completed during July 20-23, 2006.  The margin of error is + or – 3%.  The August 8, 2006, Coinstar poll can be found at http://www.coinstar.com/US/PressReleases/893476?OpenDocument .

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