In fiscal year 2015 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 is mainly spent by local governments; pension spending is primarily the federal governments Social Security program.
Governments in the US will spend $6.6 trillion in 2015.
Table 2.01: Total Spending in 2015
In fiscal 2015 the federal government estimates spending will be $3.9 trillion, of which $0.6 trillion will be transferred to states and local governments. State spending for 2015 is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com at $1.6 trillion and local government spending is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com at $1.7 trillion.
Total spending at all levels of government in the United States is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com to be $6.6 trillion in 2015.
The four big programs each cost about one trillion dollars a year.
Table 2.02: Total Spending Breakdown FY 2015
Where does all the money go? It is really quite simple. Governments at all levels, federal, state, and local, spend about $1.2 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 $6.6 trillion.
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 $6.56 trillion in 2015. The total features five major functions. Of the total spending, health care takes a 20 percent share, pensions a 19 percent share, education a 16 percent share, and defense a 13 percent share. Welfare, the fifth largest function, takes an 8 percent share of spending. All other functions, including interest on the debt, take only 24 percent of spending.
Chart 2.05: Federal Spending Details
Federal spending is budgeted at $3.90 trillion for FY 2015, and includes four major functions. Health care, principally Medicare and Medicaid, takes a 27 percent share; pensions, principally Social Security, take a 25 percent share; defense, including foreign policy, veterans, and foreign aid, is 22 percent of spending; and welfare takes 10 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.
Chart 2.06: State Spending Details
State government spending, as "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com, will total about $1.58 trillion in FY 2015, and features five major functions. Health care spending takes 33 percent of spending, education a 19 percent share, state government pensions a 14 percent share, and welfare 9 percent. Transportation takes an 8 percent share of state spending. All other spending takes an 17 percent share of state government spending.
Chart 2.07: Local Spending Details
Local government spending, as "guesstimated" by usgovernmentspending.com, will total about $1.73 trillion on FY 2015, and features two major functions. Biggest program by far is education, K-12 schools, taking a full 37 percent of local spending, followed by protection — police, fire and justice system — at 10 percent. Then comes health care at 9 percent and transportation at 8 percent. All other programs, at 37 percent of total, each take less than 7 percent of local government spending.
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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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Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .