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Debt in billions


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers and more click here.

Debt in Percent GDP


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers and more click here.

The two charts show above show recent and budgeted gross debt for the US federal government. On the left is a chart of the debt in current dollars. On the right is a chart of the debt as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

US Federal Debt Since 1900


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers from 1900-2018 click here.

Federal debt began the 20th century at less than 10 percent of GDP. It jerked above 30 percent as a result of World War I and then declined in the 1920s to 16.3 percent by 1929. Federal debt started to increase after the Crash of 1929, and rose above 40 percent in the depths of the Great Depression.

Federal debt exploded during World War II to over 120 percent of GDP, and then began a decline that bottomed out at 32 percent of GDP in 1974. Federal debt almost doubled in the 1980s, reaching 60 percent of GDP in 1990 and peaking at 66 percent of GDP in 1996, before declining to 56 percent in 2001. Federal debt started increasing again in the 2000s, reaching 70 percent of GDP in 2008. Then it exploded in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008, reaching 102 percent of GDP in 2011.

Federal debt has breached 100 percent of GDP twice since 1900: during World War II and in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008.

US Federal Debt since the Founding


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers from 1792-2018 click here.


The United States federal government began with a substantial debt, the cost of the Revolutionary War. Under Alexander Hamilton’s funding system the debt was paid off by 1840. Government debt has typically peaked after wars. It breached 30 percent of GDP after the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War I. It breached 100 percent of GDP in World War II. Government debt also breached 100 percent of GDP in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.

Gross Federal Debt vs. Net Debt


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers from 1900-2018 click here.


The US federal government differentiates between Gross Debt issued by the US Treasury and Net Debt held by the public. The numbers on Gross Debt are published by the US Treasury here.

Numbers on various categories of federal debt, including Gross Debt, debt held by federal government accounts, debt held by the public, and debt held by the Federal Reserve System, are published every year by the Office of Management and Budget in the Federal Budget in the Historical Tables as Table 7.1 — Federal Debt at the End of the Year. The table starts in 1940. You can find the latest Table 7.1 in here.

The chart above shows three categories of federal debt.

1. Monetized debt (blue), i.e., federal debt bought by the Federal Reserve System

2. Debt held by the federal government (red) e.g., as IOUs for Social Security

3. Other debt (green), i.e., debt in public hands, including foreign governments.



There’s much, much more:

  • Create CHARTS of government spending history here.
  • Look at TABLES of spending breakdown year-by-year for federal, state, and local here.
  • DOWNLOAD data for a single year here.
  • Take a TOUR of the website here.


What is the spending data; where is it from?

  • Federal spending data begins in 1792.
  • State and local spending data begins in 1902.
  • Spending data is from official government sources.
    Federal data since 1962 comes from the president’s budget.
    All other spending data comes from the US Census Bureau.
  • Gross Domestic Product data comes from measuringworth.com.

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Data Sources for :

GDP, GO: See GDP, GO Sources
Federal: Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the US, Colonial Times to 1970
State and Local: not available

> data sources for other years
> data update schedule.

Federal Deficit Announced for FY14

On October 13, 2014, the US Treasury reported in its Monthly Treasury Statement for September that the federal deficit for FY14 ending September 30 was $483 billion. Here are the numbers, including total receipts, total outlays, and deficit compared with the numbers projected in the FY 15 federal budget published in February 2014:

Federal Finances
FY14 Outcomes
Budget
billions
Outcome
billions
Receipts $3,002$3,021
Outlays$3,651$3,504
Deficit$649$483

usfederalbudget.us now shows the new numbers for total FY14 outlays and receipts on its Estimate vs. Actual page.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes "Table 9. Summary of Receipts by Source, and Outlays by Function of the U.S. Government, September 2014 and Other Periods".   This table of outlays by function makes it possible for usgovernmentspending.com to estimate outlays by "subfunction" for FY2014 by factoring budgeted amounts by the difference between budgeted and actual "function" amounts where actual outlays by subfunction cannot be gleaned from the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Final detailed FY2014 numbers will not appear until the FY2016 federal budget is published in February 2015

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usgovernmentrevenue.com was designed and executed by:

Christopher Chantrill.

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