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Economy in Brief

U.S. Government Budget Deficit Is Little Changed
by Tom Moeller  January 13, 2020

The U.S. Treasury Department reported that the federal government ran a $13.27 billion budget deficit during December compared to a $13.54 billion deficit twelve months earlier. A $14.3 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. For the first three months of this fiscal year, the budget deficit rose to $356.58 billion from $318.93 billion one year earlier.

So far this fiscal year, federal government receipts rose 4.6% y/y. Personal income tax revenues grew 3.2% y/y so far this fiscal year while corporate tax receipts improved 19.9% y/y so far in FY 2020. Social insurance taxes grew 5.7% y/y this fiscal year and customs duties, which include tariffs, jumped by 18.6% y/y.

In FY 2020, total federal government outlays have risen 6.7% y/y. Outlays on national defense programs grew 9.2% and have been growing at roughly that rate since early in 2019. Growth in Medicare outlays remained firm at 8.0% y/y so far this fiscal year, while outlays on health programs grew 5.3% y/y in FY 2020 after a 6.1% y/y gain in FY 2019. Spending on Social Security increased a steady 5.9% during the first three months of FY 2020. With the low unemployment rate, spending on income security programs grew a lessened 2.2% so far in FY 2020.

Haver's data on Federal Government outlays and receipts as well as CBO forecasts are contained in USECON; detailed data can be found in the GOVFIN database. The Action Economics Forecast Survey numbers are in the AS1REPNA database.

United States Government Finance December FY'19 FY'18 FY'17 FY'16
Budget Balance (Billions) -- $-13.27 $-984.39 $-779.00 $-665.80 $-664.80
Fiscal YTD -- $-356.58 -- -- -- --
  As a percent of GDP -- -- -4.6% -3.8% -3.5% -3.2%
% of Total
Net Revenues (Fiscal Year YTD 2020, Y/Y % Change) 100 4.6 4.0 0.4 1.5 0.6
  Individual Income Taxes 50 3.2 2.0 6.1 2.7 0.3
  Corporate Income Taxes 7 19.9 5.4 -22.4 -2.0 -11.4
  Social Insurance Taxes 36 5.7 6.2 0.8 4.2 4.7
  Customs Duties 2 18.6 71.4 19.4 -0.8 -0.6
Net Outlays  (Fiscal Year YTD 2020, Y/Y % Change) 100 6.7 8.2 3.2 3.3 4.5
  National Defense 15 9.2 8.8 0.1 6.1 0.7
  Health 13 5.3 6.1 9.8 -1.9 6.2
  Medicare 15 8.0 10.6 -1.4 0.6 8.7
  Income Security 12 2.2 4.0 -1.6 -2.1 1.0
  Social Security 23 5.9 5.7 4.5 3.1 3.2
  Veterans Benefits & Services 4 5.6 11.8 1.3 1.2 9.3
  Education, Training, Employment & Social Services 3 4.9 43.8 -34.0 31.6 -10.2
  Interest 8 -0.2 15.7 23.6 9.1 7.8
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