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How Americans Feel About the Penny

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- More than 140 billion pennies are in circulation, and more than 300 billion pennies have been issued since the first penny was coined in 1787.

What's more, 100 million pennies are thought to be out of circulation or lost forever, buried deep in sofa cushions or out of arm's reach under the passenger seat of the family Buick.

If all of the pennies in circulation were lost, that would be just fine with most men in the country (women don't feel the same way).

Spectrem Group's Millionaire Center just released a survey indicating where the lowly penny stands in the eyes of the American public -- or in some cases, where it should just roll away for good.

What's most interesting is how the penny's value breaks down demographically, with 62% of men wanting the penny shelved for good, while 57% of women still like the copper currency around. And it's not young people, but Americans between 41 and 50 years old that want to roll the penny away forever. Americans 60 and older want some pennies in their pocket for the foreseeable future.

Overall, a slight majority of adults -- 53% -- want the penny gone.

Will the federal government bend to pressure and stop circulating pennies into the economy?

It's doubtful, even as Canada, New Zealand and Australia have eliminated their lowest currency coins amid weakening popularity.

There is a good financial case to be made to eliminate the penny. Time is one issue -- the penny accounts for 60% of the U.S. Mint's production, and it cost 1.83 cents to make every one penny as of Sept. 30, according to Coinupdate.com. (It costs 9.41 cents to make another coin decreasing in popularity -- the nickel.)

And for the eighth consecutive year, the penny has generated a net loss for the taxpayer, losing $55 million in 2013 (after losing $58 million a year earlier). In the past seven years, the penny has cost taxpayers $573 million, Coinupdate.com says.

But there's no discernible movement in Congress to shed the penny, and no real clamor from lobbyists or consumer groups to start one anytime soon.

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