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Spending Charts   also: Revenue Charts  Debt Charts  Deficit Charts  

 

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

Recent and Estimated* US Local Spending

Chart S.01l: Local Spending in trillions

Chart S.02l: Local Spending in percent GDP

The two charts show above show recent and "guesstimated" direct spending for local governments in the United States. 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 Local Government Spending Since 1900

Chart S.03l: Local Government Spending

Local government began the 20th century as the largest sector of government, spending 4 percent of GDP. It continued this growth in the next three decades, reaching 8 percent of GDP in 1940. World War II cut a big hole in local government budgets and local spending did not exceed 8 percent of GDP again until the 1960s. Since the 1960s local government spending has steadily increased, reaching almost 11 percent of GDP in the 2010s.

Federal, State, Local Spending in 20th Century

Chart S.04t: Federal State and Local Spending
in 20th Century


At the start of the 20th century, government spending was principally local government spending. Out of a total of 7 percent of GDP, a full 4 percent was spent at the local level. Federal spending spiked in World War I, but in the 1920s, local government still represented about half of all government spending. In the 1930s this changed, and federal spending surged to about half of all government spending. After the spike of World War II the federal share increased again and state government spending also began to increase as a percent of GDP, so that by the 2010s federal spending checked in at over 20 percent of GDP, state spending amounted to 8 to 9 percent of GDP and local spending exceeded 10 percent of GDP.

State-by-State Comparison of State and Local Spending

Chart S.05c: State and Local Spending Comparison


The bubble chart shows total state and local spending for each state in dollars per capita compared against the Gross State Product (GSP) in dollars per capita. The chart shows that the overwhelming number of states show a correlation between state and local spending and GSP. Notable outliers are Texas, on the low spending side and New York, Vermont, and Alaska, on the high spending side.

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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.

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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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