Deficit: The amount by which the government’s total budget outlays exceeds its total receipts for a fiscal year. US Senate Budget Committee
In FY 2018 the federal deficit was 19.0 percent of federal spending.
This year, FY 2019, the federal government in its latest budget has estimated that the deficit will be 22.3 percent of federal spending.
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Chart D.43f: Federal Deficit in 20th Century
The two major peaks of the federal deficit in the 20th century occurred during World War I and World War II when the federal deficit peaked at 70 percent of federal spending. In the Great Depression and its aftermath the federal government ran deficits of about 40 percent of federal spending. But up until the Great Depression the federal government typically ran a large surplus during peacetime.
After World War II federal governments started routinely running deficits in peacetime. Deficits increased steadily from the 1950s through the early 1980s, hitting 20 percent of spending in the 1980s through the 1990-91 recession, and then declined rapidly for the remainder of the 1990s, actually hitting a surplus of about 10 percent of federal spending in 2000.
Federal deficits increased in the early 2000s, and went over 40 percent of federal spending in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.
In the recovery from the Crash of 2008 deficits have slowly reduced to about 10 percent of federal spending.
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Debt data is from official government sources.
Detailed table of debt data sources here.
Federal debt data begins in 1792.
State and local debt data begins in 1820.
State and local debt data for individual states begins in 1957.
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> US, State Pop FY17
Sources for 2014:
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
FY 2018 Outcomes