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In FY 2018 the federal government spent $894.0 billion on Defense.

That includes $664.7 billion on the military, $180.4 billion on veterans, and $49.0 billion on foreign aid.

Defense Spending Analysis

This page shows the current trends in defense spending. See here for a general history of US defense spending.

Recent Defense Spending

Chart S.41t: Recent Defense Spending

Chart S.42t: Recent Defense Spend as Pct GDP

The decade of the 2000s was the decade of the War on Terror, with Pentagon spending going from $294 billion in 2000 to $705 billion in 2011. Veterans spending increased from $47 billion in 2000 to $109 billion in 2010 and $175 billion in 2016. Foreign aid has increased from $17 billion to $45 billion a year.

Viewed from a GDP perspective, overall defense spending increased from about 3.5 percent GDP in 2000 to 5.7 percent of GDP in 2010-11. Since then defense spending has declined to 4.4 percent GDP. During this period veterans spending has grown from 0.46 percent GDP to 0.95 percent GDP.

See also Defense Spending History.

US Defense Spending Since 1965

Defense has declined by over 50 percent since the peak during the Vietnam war.

Chart S.43t: Defense Spending since 1965

At the peak of the Vietnam war defense spending, including military, veterans, State Department, and foreign aid spending, hit 10 percent of GDP. But then it began a decline, down to 5.5 percent GDP in 1979.

In the Reagan administration defense spending was substantially increased, up to 6.8 percent GDP per year by 1986.

Starting in the late 1980s, even before the end of the Soviet Union, defense spending began a 15 year decline, down to 3.45 percent of GDP in 2001. That ended with the terrorist attack on 9/11 in 2001.

In the War on Terror, defense spending rose to 4.5 percent GDP with the invasion of Iraq, and then rose to 5.7 percent GDP with the anti-insurgent “surge” in Iraq. With the withdrawal from Iraq, defense spending has declined to 4.4 percent GDP.

A Century of Defense Spending

There were two major peaks of defense spending in the 20th century: World War I and World War II.

At the start of the 20th century, defense spending averaged about one percent of GDP. Then it spiked to 22 percent at the end of World War I. Defense spending in the 1920s ran at about 1 to 2 percent of GDP and in the 1930s, 2 to 3 percent of GDP.

In World War II defense spending peaked at 41 percent of GDP, and then declined to about 10 percent during the height of the Cold War. Thereafter it declined to 3 to 5 percent of GDP, with surges during the 1980s and the 2000s.

Suggested Video: US Defense 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.

Spending 101 Courses

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Next Data Update

> US, State Pop FY17

> data update schedule.

Data Sources for 2014_2023:

Sources for 2014:

GDP, GO: GDP, GO Sources
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1
State and Local: State and Local Gov. Finances

Sources for 2023:

GDP, GO: GDP, GO Sources
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1
State and Local: State and Local Gov. Finances
'Guesstimated' by projecting the latest change in reported spending forward to future years

> data sources for other years
> 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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