Site Map  enter code:



What is the Total US Government Spending?

In FY 2016, total US government spending, federal, state, and local, is “guesstimated” to be $6.65 trillion. Federal spending is budgeted at $3.95 trillion; state spending is “guesstimated” at $1.59 trillion; local spending is “guesstimated” at $1.77 trillion.

a briefing:

smaller text  bigger text    print view

Estimated FY 2016 Spending
for Governments in the United States

In fiscal year 2016 the governments in the United States are expected to spend about 36 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Most of the money goes for health care, education, pensions, defense, and welfare programs. Health care spending is split mainly between federal and state governments; education spending occurs mainly at the local government level; pension spending is primarily the federal government’s Social Security program and the states’ government employee pension programs.

Government Spending: Federal, State, Local

Governments in the US will spend $6.7 trillion in 2016.

Table 2.01: Total Spending in 2016

In fiscal 2016 the federal government estimates spending will be $3.95 trillion, of which $0.7 trillion will be transferred to states and local governments. State spending for 2016 is "guesstimated" by at $1.60 trillion and local government spending is "guesstimated" by at $1.77 trillion.

Total spending at all levels of government in the United States is "guesstimated" by to be $6.66 trillion in 2016.

Government Spending: the Big Picture

The four big functions each cost about one trillion dollars a year.

Table 2.02: Total Spending Breakdown FY 2016

Where does all the money go? It is really quite simple. Governments at all levels, federal, state, and local, spend about $1.3 trillion a year on pensions, including Social Security and government employee pensions. Governments spend about $1.4 trillion a year on health care, principally Medicare and Medicaid. Governments spend about $1.0 trillion a year on education at all levels, principally at the local government level. The federal government spends about $0.8 trillion a year on defense, including the Departments of Defense, State, and Veterans Affairs. Governments spend $0.5 trillion on welfare programs other than Medicaid. All other spending amounts to $1.6 trillion, including interest on the national debt. The grand total of all the spending is $6.7 trillion.

Government Spending: the Details

About 60 percent of government spending comes from the federal government; About 24 percent is spent by state governments and 27 percent by local governments. About 10 percent of total spending is transferred from the federal government to state and local governments.

Table 2.03: Total Spending Details FY 2016

The federal government is budgeted to spend $3.95 trillion in FY 2016, of which about $0.7 trillion is transferred to state and local governments. Federal pension programs, including Social Security, will cost about $996 billion; federal health care programs, including Medicare and the federal share of Medicaid, will cost $1,121 billion; defense, including the Departments of Defense and State, and the Veterans Administration, will cost about $829 billion. Federal welfare costs will come in at $377 billion, and federal education programs will cost about $126 billion. Interest on the national debt is estimated at $240 billion.

State governments are "guesstimated" by to spend about $1.6 trillion in FY 2016. The biggest expenditure will be $564 billion for health care, mainly on Medicaid partially funded by the federal government. Next up are education at $283 billion and employee pensions at $246 billion. Welfare is expected to cost about $131 billion and transportation $118 billion.

Local governments are "guesstimated" by to spend about $1.8 trillion in FY 2016. The biggest expenditure is $679 billion for education. Next comes police and fire protection at $168 billion, health care at $153 billion, and transportation at $155 billion.

Pie Chart of Total US Government Spending

Although the four big government programs — pensions, health care, education, and defense — each cost about a trillion dollars a year they are distributed unequally between the levels of government.

Chart 2.04: Total Spending Details

Total government spending in the United States, including federal, state, and local governments, is expected to total $6.66 trillion in 2016. The total features five major functions. Of the total spending, health care takes a 22 percent share, pensions a 19 percent share, education a 15 percent share, defense a 12 percent share, and welfare (apart from health care) a 7 percent share. All other functions, including interest on the debt, take 24 percent of spending.

Pie Chart of Federal Government Spending

Chart 2.05: Federal Spending Details

Federal spending is budgeted at $3.95 trillion for FY 2016, and includes four major functions. Health care, principally Medicare and Medicaid, takes a 28 percent share; pensions, principally Social Security, take a 25 percent share; defense, including foreign policy, veterans, and foreign aid, is 21 percent of spending; and welfare takes 10 percent of spending. All other spending, including interest on the national debt, takes 16 percent of federal spending.

Notice that education is not a major item in federal spending.

Pie Chart of State Government Spending


Chart 2.06: State Spending Details

State government spending, as "guesstimated" by, will total about $1.60 trillion in FY 2016, and features five major functions. Health care spending takes 35 percent of spending, education has an 18 percent share, state government pensions at 15 percent share, welfare at an 8 percent share, and transportation at a 7 percent share. All other spending takes a 16 percent share of state government spending.

Pie Chart of Local Government Spending

Chart 2.07: Local Spending Details

Local government spending, as "guesstimated" by, will total about $1.77 trillion on FY 2016, and features two major functions. Biggest program by far is education, K-12 schools, taking a full 38 percent of local spending, followed by protection — police, fire and justice system — at 9 percent. Then comes health care at 9 percent. All other programs, at 35 percent of total, each take less than 7 percent of local government spending.

Spending 101 Courses

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

There’s More...

Where you go to get facts about government.

Prepared by Christopher Chantrill.

Click the image on the right to buy’s ebook.
It costs only $0.99 and it contains all the analyses of spending history
on the website and more.

Top Spending Requests:

Find DEFICIT stats and history.

Get WELFARE stats and history.

US BUDGET overview and pie chart.


DOWNLOAD spending data or debt data.

See FEDERAL BUDGET breakdown and estimated vs. actual.

MILITARY SPENDING details, budget and history.


See BAR CHARTS of spending, debt.

Check STATE spending: CA NY TX FL and compare.



Take a COURSE at Spending 101.

Make your own CUSTOM CHART.

Spending Data Sources

Spending data is from official government sources.

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

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.

Site Search

Win Cash for Bugs

File a valid bug report and get a $5 Amazon Gift Certificate.

Next Data Update

> Federal Deficit FY15

> data update schedule.

Data Source

Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .

> data sources for other years
> data update schedule.

State FY16 Tax Update

On September 25, 2016 updated FY2016 state revenue with quarterly tax data released by the US Census Bureau on September 20, 2016.  Local tax data was updated by assuming that local taxes for 2016 changed by the same percent as state taxes of the same type.

State and local spending projections for FY2017 to FY2021 have been reestimated using the "Guesstimate" method.

Budget News

> archive

Spend links

us numbersus budgetcustom chartdeficit/gdpspend/gdpdebt/gdpus gdpus real gdpstate gdpbreakdownfederalstatelocal201520162017californiatexas

Masthead was designed and executed by:

Christopher Chantrill.

Email here.

presented by Christopher Chantrill

Data Sources  •   •  Contact