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Debt and Deficit Facts

Right now the Gross Federal Debt is $21,845,329,154,412.01.

At the end of FY 2018 the debt was $21.46 trillion, or 107.1% GDP.
The highest federal debt in US history was 119.0% GDP in 1946 just after World War II.

At the end of FY 2018 the federal deficit was $779 billion, or 3.9% GDP.
The highest federal deficit in US history was 29.0% GDP in 1943 in World War II.

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US State and Local Government Debt History



Currently, state government debt in the United States is about 6.5 percent of GDP and local government debt is about 10.4 percent of GDP.

A Century of State and Local Debt

State and local debt increased briskly in the early 20th century, exploding into the Great Depression. After the trough of the Great Depression, state and local debt declined until just after World War II. In the post-World War II era state and local debt has increased, but slowly, and has never reached the peaks recording in the depths of the 1930s.

Chart 4.101: State and Local Debt in 20th Century

At the start of the 20th century, state government debt stood at about 1 percent of GDP. It expanded briskly through the 1920s, reaching 2.2 percent of GDP in 1929. State debt exploded to 5.31 percent of GDP in 1933 before declining slowly to a low of 1.03 percent in 1946 after World War II.

At the start of the 20th century, local government debt stood at about 8 percent of GDP. It expanded briskly in the 1920s, reaching 13.5 percent of GDP in 1929. Local debt exploded to 28 percent of GDP in 1933 before declining to a low of 5.45 percent in 1948 after World War II.

In the post World War II era, state and local debt increased briskly through the early 1960s, with state debt reaching 3.6 percent GDP and local debt reaching 9.7 percent GDP in 1962. In the 1970s through the 1990s state debt increased steadily, breaching 4 percent of GDP in 1971, 5 percent GDP in 1986, reaching 5.8 percent in 2001. Local debt increased more erratically, dropping from 9.5 percent of GDP in 1971 to 7.13 in 1981 and then increasing to over 9 percent in 1988, leveling out until 2001.

In the 2000s both state debt and local debt increased briskly then bounced up in the Great Recession, with state debt peaking at 7.45 percent GDP in 2010 and local debt peaking at 11.55 percent GDP in 2010. Since 2010 both state and local debt have declined as a percent of GDP, with state debt at 6.23 percent GDP in 2016 and local debt at 10.2 percent GDP in 2015.

Recent State and Local Debt

State and local debt has declined as a percent GDP since the Great Recession.

Chart 4.102: Recent State and Local Debt

In 1990 state government debt stood at 5.3 percent of GDP and local government debt stood at 9.1 percent. Both state and local debt remained pretty flat in the 1990s.

State and local debt increased during the 2001-01 recession, with state debt reaching 6.3 percent GDP in 2004 and local debt reaching 9.74 percent GDP in 2004. State and local debt flattened out in the growth years of the 2000s until the Great Recession when state debt bumped up to a peak of 7.45 percent in 2010 and local debt bumped up to 11.55 percent GDP in 2010.

In the recovery after the Great Recession, both state and local debt have come down, with state debt at 6.23 percent GDP in 2016 and local debt at 10.2 percent GDP in 2015.

State-by-State Comparison of State and Local Debt

States shuffle the deck from decade to decade

Chart 4.103: State and Local Debt Comparison in 1960


The bubble chart above shows total state and local debt in 1960 for each state in dollars per capita compared against the Gross State Product (GSP) in dollars per capita. The chart shows a correlation between state and local debt and GSP. Notable outlier is Nevada with high GDP per capita and moderate debt.

Chart 4.104: State and Local Debt Comparison in 1985


The bubble chart above shows total state and local debt in 1985 for each state in dollars per capita compared against the Gross State Product (GSP) in dollars per capita. The states are all in a bunch, except Alaska which is in the middle of its North Slope oil boom.

Chart 4.105: State and Local Debt Comparison in 2016


The bubble chart above shows total state and local debt in 2016 for each state in dollars per capita compared against the Gross State Product (GSP) in dollars per capita. The blue states, New York, Massachusetts, and California, show high GDP and high debt.

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Debt Data Sources

Debt data is from official government sources.

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

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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Next Data Update

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Data Source

Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .

> 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
Budget
billions
Outcome
billions
Receipts $3,340$3,329
Outlays$4,130$4,108
Deficit$833$779

usgovernmentspending.com 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 usgovernmentspending.com to post details of federal receipt actuals for FY 2018.

This FTS report on FY 18 actuals is a problem for usgovernmentspending.com 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 usgovernmentspending.com 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 usgovernmentspending.com 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.

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