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What is the Debt?

This page shows Federal Debt.
Gross Federal Debt: That’s the gross amount of debt issued by the US Treasury. “Debt held by the public” and “debt held by federal government accounts” here are components of Gross Federal Debt.
Also, see National Debt, State Debt, Local Debt and Federal Deficit.

 

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Debt Clock

Today’s Federal Debt is about $17,610,234,937,000.

The amount is the gross federal debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury since 1790. It doesn’t include state and local debt, and it doesn’t include the so-called unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Federal Debt per person is about $53,969.

Projected and Recent US Federal Debt Numbers

Gross
Federal Debt
Debt Held by
Public (not FRS)
Debt held by
gov. accounts
Debt Held by
Federal Reserve
FY 2015*$18.7 trillion$11.5 trillion$5.1 trillion$2.1 trillion
FY 2014*$17.9 trillion$10.8 trillion$5.0 trillion$2.1 trillion
FY 2013$16.7 trillion$9.9 trillion$4.7 trillion$2.1 trillion
FY 2012$16.1 trillion$9.6 trillion$4.8 trillion$1.6 trillion
FY 2011$14.8 trillion$8.5 trillion$4.6 trillion$1.7 trillion
FY 2010$13.5 trillion$8.2 trillion$4.5 trillion$0.8 trillion
FY 2009$11.9 trillion$6.8 trillion$4.3 trillion$0.8 trillion

“Gross Federal Debt” is the total debt owed by the United States federal government. It comprises “Debt Held by Public” including foreign governments (but excluding debt held by the Federal Reserve System), debt held by federal government accounts such as IOUs owed to the Social Security trust fund, and “Debt held by Federal Reserve,” debt bought by the Federal Reserve System and considered part of the monetary base.

Note:

* Federal Debt after 2013 is budgeted. Debt held by the Federal Reserve after 2013 is estimated.

Debt Charts   also: Spending Charts  Revenue Charts  Deficit Charts  

 

Recent and Budgeted US Federal Debt

Debt in billions


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers and more click here.

Debt in Percent GDP


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers and more click here.

The two charts show above show recent and budgeted gross debt for the US federal government. On the left is a chart of the debt in current dollars. On the right is a chart of the debt as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

US Federal Debt Since 1900


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers from 1900-2019 click here.

Federal debt began the 20th century at less than 10 percent of GDP. It jerked above 30 percent as a result of World War I and then declined in the 1920s to 16.3 percent by 1929. Federal debt started to increase after the Crash of 1929, and rose above 40 percent in the depths of the Great Depression.

Federal debt exploded during World War II to over 120 percent of GDP, and then began a decline that bottomed out at 32 percent of GDP in 1974. Federal debt almost doubled in the 1980s, reaching 60 percent of GDP in 1990 and peaking at 66 percent of GDP in 1996, before declining to 56 percent in 2001. Federal debt started increasing again in the 2000s, reaching 70 percent of GDP in 2008. Then it exploded in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008, reaching 102 percent of GDP in 2011.

Federal debt has breached 100 percent of GDP twice since 1900: during World War II and in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008.

US Federal Debt since the Founding


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers from 1792-2019 click here.


The United States federal government began with a substantial debt, the cost of the Revolutionary War. Under Alexander Hamilton’s funding system the debt was paid off by 1840. Government debt has typically peaked after wars. It breached 30 percent of GDP after the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War I. It breached 100 percent of GDP in World War II. Government debt also breached 100 percent of GDP in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.

Gross Federal Debt vs. Net Debt


Click chart for briefing on Federal Debt.
For numbers from 1900-2019 click here.


The US federal government differentiates between Gross Debt issued by the US Treasury and Net Debt held by the public. The numbers on Gross Debt are published by the US Treasury here.

Numbers on various categories of federal debt, including Gross Debt, debt held by federal government accounts, debt held by the public, and debt held by the Federal Reserve System, are published every year by the Office of Management and Budget in the Federal Budget in the Historical Tables as Table 7.1 — Federal Debt at the End of the Year. The table starts in 1940. You can find the latest Table 7.1 in here.

The chart above shows three categories of federal debt.

1. Monetized debt (blue), i.e., federal debt bought by the Federal Reserve System

2. Debt held by the federal government (red) e.g., as IOUs for Social Security

3. Other debt (green), i.e., debt in public hands, including foreign governments.

Top Debt Requests:

Find DEFICIT stats and history.

US BUDGET overview and pie chart.

Find NATIONAL DEBT today.

See FEDERAL BUDGET breakdown and estimated vs. actual.

See BAR CHARTS of debt.

See PIE CHARTS of total debt, federal debt.

Check STATE debt: CA NY TX FL and compare.

See DEBT HISTORY briefing.

Take a COURSE at Spending 101.

Make your own CUSTOM CHART.

Debt Data Sources

Debt data is from official government sources.
  Federal data since 1962 comes from the president’s budget.
  All other debt data comes from the US Census Bureau.

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 1890.

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

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Gross Federal Debt

Debt: $17,610,234,937,000

Data Sources for 2009_2019:

Sources for 2009:

GDP: US Bureau of Economic Analysis
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1
State and Local: State and Local Gov. Finances

Sources for 2019:

GDP: Fed. Budget: Hist. Table 10.1
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 Revenue by State for 2013

On April 6, 2014, we updated usgovernmentspending.com with the numbers from "SOI Tax Stats - Gross Collections, by Type of Tax and State, Fiscal Year - IRS Data Book Table 5" of the IRS Data Book for 2013.  The data can be viewed on the Federal Revenue by State page here.

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Christopher Chantrill.

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