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What is the Total US Government Spending?

In FY 2017, total US government spending, federal, state, and local, is “guesstimated” to be $6.89 trillion. Federal spending is budgeted at $4.15 trillion; state spending is “guesstimated” at $1.63 trillion; local spending is “guesstimated” at $1.81 trillion.

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Estimated FY 2017 Spending
for Governments in the United States



In fiscal year 2017 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 $6.9 trillion in 2017.

Table 2.01: Total Spending in 2017

In fiscal 2017 the federal government estimates spending will be $4.15 trillion, of which $0.7 trillion will be transferred to states and local governments. State spending for 2017 is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com at $1.63 trillion and local government spending is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com at $1.81 trillion.

Total spending at all levels of government in the United States is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com to be $6.89 trillion in 2017.


Government Spending: the Big Picture

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

Table 2.02: Total Spending Breakdown FY 2017

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 $1.5 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 $0.9 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 $1.7 trillion, including interest on the national debt. The grand total of all the spending is $6.9 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 26 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 2017

The federal government is budgeted to spend $4.15 trillion in FY 2017, of which about $0.7 trillion is transferred to state and local governments. Federal pension programs, including Social Security, will cost about $1,033 billion; federal health care programs, including Medicare and the federal share of Medicaid, will cost $1,173 billion; defense, including the Departments of Defense and State, and the Veterans Administration, will cost about $854 billion. Federal welfare costs will come in at $387 billion, and federal education programs will cost about $121 billion. Interest on the national debt is estimated at $303 billion.

State governments are "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com to spend about $1.63 trillion in FY 2017. The biggest expenditure will be $579 billion for health care, mainly on Medicaid partially funded by the federal government. Next up are education at $285 billion and employee pensions at $257 billion. Welfare is expected to cost about $126 billion and transportation $120 billion.

Local governments are "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com to spend about $1.81 trillion in FY 2017. The biggest expenditure is $700 billion for education. Next comes police and fire protection at $169 billion, health care at $156 billion, and transportation at $160 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 $6.89 trillion in 2017. The total features five major functions. Of the total spending, health care takes a 22 percent share, pensions a 20 percent share, education a 15 percent share, defense a 12 percent share. All other functions, including interest on the debt, take 31 percent of spending.

Pie Chart of Federal Government Spending

Chart 2.05: Federal Spending Details

Federal spending is budgeted at $4.15 trillion for FY 2017, 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 9 percent of spending. All other spending, including interest on the national debt, takes 17 percent of federal spending.

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

Pie Chart of State Government Spending

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Chart 2.06: State Spending Details

State government spending, as "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com, will total about $1.63 trillion in FY 2017, and features five major functions. Health care spending takes 36 percent of spending, education has an 17 percent share, state government pensions at 16 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 usgovernmentspending.com, will total about $1.81 trillion on FY 2017, and features two major functions. Biggest program by far is education, K-12 schools, taking a full 39 percent of local spending, followed by protection — police, fire and justice system — at 9 percent. Then come health care and transportation, each at 9 percent. All other programs, at 34 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


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Spending Data Sources

Spending data is from official government sources.

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.

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Next Data Update

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Data Source

Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .

> data sources for other years
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Federal Deficit and Outlay Actuals for FY16

On October 14, 2016, the US Treasury reported in its Monthly Treasury Statement (and xls) for September that the federal deficit for FY 2016 ending September 30 was $587 billion. Here are the numbers, including total receipts, total outlays, and deficit compared with the numbers projected in the FY 2017 federal budget published in February 2016:

Federal Finances
FY 2016 Outcomes
Budget
billions
Outcome
billions
Receipts $3,336$3,267
Outlays$3,951$3,854
Deficit$616$587

usfederalbudget.us now shows the new numbers for total FY 2016 outlays and receipts on its Estimate vs. Actual page.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes ""Table 4: Receipts of the United States Government, September 2015 and Other Periods." This table of receipts by source is used for usgovernmentspending.com to post federal receipt actuals for FY 2016.

The Monthly Treasury Statement includes "Table 9. Summary of Receipts by Source, and Outlays by Function of the U.S. Government, September 2016 and Other Periods".   This table of outlays by function makes it possible for usgovernmentspending.com to estimate actual outlays by "subfunction" for FY 2016 by factoring budgeted amounts by the difference between budgeted and actual "function" amounts where actual outlays by subfunction cannot be gleaned from the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Final detailed FY 2016 numbers will not appear on usgovernmentspending.com until the FY 2018 federal budget is published in February 2017 with the actual outlays for FY 2016 in Historical Table 3.2--Outlays by Function and Subfunction.

Spend links

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