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Spending Charts   also: Revenue Charts  Debt Charts  Deficit Charts  

 

This page shows the current trends in US federal spending. Also see charts on US federal spending history. See also: Social Security Spending and Medicare Spending
 

Recent and Budgeted* US Federal Spending

Chart S.01f: Federal Spending in trillions

Chart S.02f: Federal Spending in percent GDP

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

US Federal Spending Since 1900

Chart S.03f: Federal Spending

Federal spending began the 20th century at less than 3 percent of GDP per year. It jerked above 24 percent as a result of World War I and then declined in the 1920s to 3 to 4 percent by 1929. Federal spending started to increase after the Crash of 1929, and rose above 10 percent in the depths of the Great Depression.

Federal spending exploded during World War II to nearly 48 percent of GDP, and then declined to about 15 percent in the late 1940s.

In the Korean War of the early 1950s federal spending increased to over 20 percent of GDP, and then declined to about 17 to 18 percent by the end of the 1950s. In the 1960s federal spending began a slow increase to about 22 percent of GDP in the early 1980s, and then declined modestly to about 18 percent by 2000.

In the 2000s federal spending increased modestly to about 20 percent of GDP before exploding to 24 to 25 percent in the Crash of 2008.

US Federal Spending since the Founding

Chart S.04f: Federal Spending since the Founding


Federal spending in the first half of the 19th century stayed typically below 2 percent of GDP except in wartime. In the Civil War, federal spending exploded to 13 percent of GDP. After the Civil War spending gradually declined. It dropped below 4 percent of GDP in 1872 and below 3 percent of GDP in 1880. Thereafter, federal spending hovered between 2.5 percent and 3 percent of GDP until World War I. Federal spending peaked at 24 percent of GDP and declined below 4 percent in the 1920s. Federal spending reached 10 percent of GDP in the 1930s before rocketing to 48 percent of GDP at the end of World War II. From the end of World War II to the mid 1980s federal spending gradually increased from 15 percent to 22 percent and then declined to below 20 percent of GDP by 2000. Spending drafted back above 20 percent of GDP in the 2000s before increasing to 25 percent of GDP in the Crash of 2008.

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Spending Data Sources

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

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

Detailed table of spending data sources here.

Federal spending data begins in 1792.

State and local spending data begins in 1890.

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

Spending 101 Courses

Spending | Federal Debt | Revenue | Defense | Welfare | Healthcare | Education
Debt History | Entitlements | Deficits | State Spending | State Taxes | State Debt


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Next Data Update

> State and Local Finances FY13

> data update schedule.

Data Sources for 2010_2020:

Sources for 2010:

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

Sources for 2020:

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.

Gross State Product Update for 2014

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its Gross State Product (GSP) data for 2014 on June 10, 2015.

Usgovernmentspending.com has updated its individual state GSPs for 2014 and projected nominal and real GSP through 2020 for each state using the projected national GDP numbers from Table 10.1 in the Historical Tables for the Federal FY2016 Budget and the historical GDP data series from the BEA as a baseline.

As before we have projected individual state GSPs out to 2020 by applying a factor to reflect each state's deviation from the national growth rate. (E.g. In 2014 the national real GDP expanded by 2.4 percent. But North Dakota grew by 6.3 percent, a deviation of nearly 4 percent. The deviation is reduced by 40 percent for each year after 2014, making the assumption that each state will slowly revert to the national norm.)

Usgovernmentspending.com displays individual state data going back to 1957, but BEA has nominal GSP data going back to only 1963, and real GSP data going back to 1987.  Also the 1987-1997 real GSP data is in 1997 dollars, not 2009 dollars like the 1997-present data, and the pre-1997 data is based on a different model than post 1997 data.  For the pre-1997 data we have factored it to remove any "bumps" over the 1997 transition.

Because usgovernmentspending.com needs GSP data to provide e.g., spending as a percent of GDP, we have extended the two BEA GSP data series back to 1957.  We have assumed that the rate of change of GSP prior to 1963 is the same as the national GDP and we have assumed that the rate of change of real GSP prior to 1987 is the same as the nation real GDP growth rate.

Click here to view a complete list of US states and their 2014 GSP growth rates.

Spend links

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