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In FY 2019, total US government spending, federal, state, and local, is “guesstimated” to be $7.56 trillion. Federal spending is budgeted at $4.41 trillion; state spending is “guesstimated” at $1.87 trillion; local spending is “guesstimated” at $1.99 trillion.

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US Government Spending Estimates for FY 2019

In fiscal year 2019 the governments in the United States are expected to spend about 35.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Most of the money goes for health care, education, pensions, defense, and welfare programs. Health care spending is split mainly between federal and state governments; education spending occurs mainly at the local government level; pension spending is primarily the federal government’s Social Security program and the states’ government employee pension programs.

Government Spending: Federal, State, Local

Governments in the US will spend $7.6 trillion in 2019.

Table 2.01: Total Spending in 2018

In fiscal 2019 the federal government estimates spending will be $4.4 trillion, of which $0.7 trillion will be transferred to states and local governments. State spending for 2018 is "guesstimated" by at $1.9 trillion and local government spending is "guesstimated" by at $2.0 trillion.

Total spending at all levels of government in the United States is "guesstimated" by to be $7.6 trillion in 2018.

Government Spending: the Big Picture

The four big functions each cost about one trillion dollars a year. Or more.

Table 2.02: Total Spending Breakdown FY 2018

Where does all the money go? It is really quite simple. Governments at all levels, federal, state, and local, spend about $1.4 trillion a year on pensions, including Social Security and government employee pensions. Governments spend about $1.7 trillion a year on health care, principally Medicare and Medicaid. Governments spend about $1.1 trillion a year on education at all levels, principally at the local government level. The federal government spends about $1.0 trillion a year on defense, including the Departments of Defense, State, and Veterans Affairs. Governments spend $0.5 trillion on welfare programs other than Medicaid. All other spending amounts to $1.9 trillion, including interest on the national debt. The grand total of all the spending is $7.6 trillion.

Government Spending: the Details

About 57 percent of government spending comes from the federal government; About 26 percent is spent by state governments and 27 percent by local governments. About 10 percent of total spending is transferred from the federal government to state and local governments.

Table 2.03: Total Spending Details FY 2018

The federal government is budgeted to spend $4.41 trillion in FY 2019, of which about $0.7 trillion is transferred to state and local governments. Federal pension programs, including Social Security, will cost about $1,108 billion; federal health care programs, including Medicare and the federal share of Medicaid, will cost $1,225 billion; defense, including the Departments of Defense and State, and the Veterans Administration, will cost about $950 billion. Federal welfare costs will come in at $348 billion, and federal education programs will cost about $113 billion. Interest on the national debt is estimated at $363 billion.

State governments are "guesstimated" by to spend about $1.87 trillion in FY 2019. The biggest expenditure will be $713 billion for health care, mainly on Medicaid and related programs partially funded by the federal government. Next up are education at $342 billion and employee pensions at $279 billion. Welfare is expected to cost about $127 billion and transportation $140 billion.

Local governments are "guesstimated" by to spend about $1.99 trillion in FY 2019. The biggest expenditure is $731 billion for education. Next comes police and fire protection at $197 billion, health care at $190 billion, and transportation at $164 billion.

Pie Chart of Total US Government Spending

Although the four big government programs — pensions, health care, education, and defense — each cost about a trillion dollars a year they are distributed unequally between the levels of government.

Chart 2.04: Total Spending Details

Total government spending in the United States, including federal, state, and local governments, is expected to total $7.56 trillion in FY 2019. The total features five major functions. Of the total spending, health care takes a 22 percent share, pensions a 19 percent share, education a 15 percent share, defense a 13 percent share. All other functions, including interest on the debt, take 31 percent of spending.

Pie Chart of Federal Government Spending

Chart 2.05: Federal Spending Details

Federal spending is budgeted at $4.41 trillion in FY 2019, and includes four major functions. Health care, principally Medicare and Medicaid, takes a 28 percent share; pensions, principally Social Security, take a 25 percent share; defense, including foreign policy, veterans, and foreign aid, is 22 percent of spending; and welfare takes 8 percent of spending. All other spending, including interest on the national debt, takes 18 percent of federal spending.

Notice that education is not a major item in federal spending.

Pie Chart of State Government Spending


Chart 2.06: State Spending Details

State government spending, as "guesstimated" by, will total about $1.87 trillion in FY 2019, and features three major functions. Health care spending takes 38 percent of spending, education has a 18 percent share, state government pensions at 15 percent share. All other spending takes a 29 percent share of state government spending.

Pie Chart of Local Government Spending

Chart 2.07: Local Spending Details

Local government spending, as "guesstimated" by, will total about $1.99 trillion in FY 2019, and features three major functions. Biggest program by far is education, K-12 schools, taking a full 37 percent of local spending, followed by protection — police, fire and justice system — at 10 percent. Then comes health care at 10 percent. All other programs, at 44 percent of total, each take less than 7 percent of local government spending.

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Spending Data Sources

Spending data is from official government sources.

Gross Domestic Product data comes from US Bureau of Economic Analysis and

Detailed table of spending data sources here.

Federal spending data begins in 1792.

State and local spending data begins in 1820.

State and local spending data for individual states begins in 1957.

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Next Data Update

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Data Source

Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .

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> data update schedule.

Federal Deficit, Receipts, Outlays Actuals for FY18

On October 15, 2018, the US Treasury reported in its Monthly Treasury Statement (and xls) for September that the federal deficit for FY 2018 ending September 30, 2018, was $779 billion. Here are the numbers, including total receipts, total outlays, and deficit compared with the numbers projected in the FY 2019 federal budget published in February 2018:

Federal Finances
FY 2018 Outcomes
Receipts $3,340$3,329
Deficit$833$779 now shows the new numbers for total FY 2018 total outlays and receipts on its Estimate vs. Actual page.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes "Table 4: Receipts of the United States Government, September 2018 and Other Periods." This table of receipts by source is used for to post details of federal receipt actuals for FY 2018.

This FTS report on FY 18 actuals is a problem for because this site uses Historical Table 3.2--Outlays by Function and Subfunction from the Budget of the United States as its basic source for federal subfunction outlays. But the Monthly Treasury Statement only includes "Table 9. Summary of Receipts by Source, and Outlays by Function of the U.S. Government, September 2018 and Other Periods". Subfunction amounts don't get reported until the FY20 budget in February 2019. Until then estimates actual outlays by "subfunction" for FY 2018 by factoring subfunction budgeted amounts for FY18 by the ratio between relevant actual and budgeted "function" amounts where actual outlays by subfunction cannot be gleaned from the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Final detailed FY 2018 actuals will not appear on until the FY 2020 federal budget is published in February 2019 with the actual outlays for FY 2018 in Historical Table 3.2--Outlays by Function and Subfunction.

Spend links

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