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What is the Debt?

This page shows National Debt.

National Debt: Strictly speaking, the national debt is the total of federal, state, and local debt. But people often talk about the debt of the US federal government as the “national debt.”
Also, see Federal Debt, State Debt, Local Debt.
Also, see National Debt, State Debt, Local Debt and Federal Deficit.

 

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Debt Clock

Today’s Federal Debt is about $18,041,547,959,000.

The amount is the gross outstanding federal debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury since 1790. It doesn’t include state and local debt, and it doesn’t include the so-called unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Federal Debt per person is about $55,291.

Debt Charts   also: Spending Charts  Revenue Charts  Deficit Charts  

 

Recent and Estimated US Total Debt

Debt in billions


Click chart for briefing on Total Government Debt.
For numbers and more click here.

Debt in Percent GDP


Click chart for briefing on Total Government Debt.
For numbers and more click here.

The two charts show above show recent and estimated gross debt issued by all levels of government in the United States. On the left is a chart of the debt in current dollars. On the right is a chart of the debt as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

US Total Government Debt Since 1900


Click chart for briefing on Total Government Debt.
For numbers from 1900-2019 click here.

Government debt began the 20th century at less than 20 percent of GDP. It jerked above 45 percent as a result of World War I and above 70 percent in the depths of the Great Depression. Debt has breached 100 percent of GDP twice since 1900: during World War II and in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008.

Federal, State, Local Debt in 20th Century


Click chart for briefing on Total Debt.
For numbers from 1900-2019 click here.


At the beginning of the 20th century debt was equally divided between federal and state and local debt, totaling less than 20 percent of GDP. After World War I, the total debt surged to 45% of GDP. But by the mid 1920s debt had declined to below 35 percent of GDP. Then came the Great Depression, boosting total public debt to 70 percent of GDP. World War II boosted federal debt to almost 122 percent of GDP in 1946, with state and local debt adding another 7 percent. For the next 35 years successive governments brought the debt below 50 percent of GDP, but President Reagan increased the federal debt up over 50 perent of GDP, and total debt towards 70 perent to win the Cold War. President Bush increased the debt to fight a war on terror and bail out the banks in the crisis of 2008.

Top Debt Requests:

Find DEFICIT stats and history.

US BUDGET overview and pie chart.

Find NATIONAL DEBT today.

See FEDERAL BUDGET breakdown and estimated vs. actual.

See BAR CHARTS of debt.

See PIE CHARTS of total debt, federal debt.

Check STATE debt: CA NY TX FL and compare.

See DEBT HISTORY briefing.

Take a COURSE at Spending 101.

Make your own CUSTOM CHART.

Debt Data Sources

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

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

Detailed table of debt data sources here.

Federal debt data begins in 1792.

State and local debt data begins in 1890.

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

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Gross Federal Debt

Debt: $18,041,547,959,000

Data Sources for 2010_2019:

Sources for 2010:

GDP, GO: See 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 2019:

GDP, GO: See 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.

State and Local Finances Update for FY 2012

On December 11, 2014 usgovernmentspending.com updated the state and local spending and revenue for FY 2012 using the newly released Census Bureau State and Local Government Finances for FY 2012.  This includes state and local spending for the United States as a whole and individual states and the District of Columbia.

State and local spending and revenue for FY2012 are now actual historical spending as reported by the Census Bureau.  Previously state spending and revenue for FY2012 was actual and local spending and revenue was estimated.  The following table shows the difference between estimated and actual spending and revenue for FY2012:

FY 2012Estimated
$ billion
Actual
$ billion
Spending$1,657$1,647
Revenue$1,038$1,075

We have updated the "guesstimated" state and local finances for FY2013-19.

Also updated were state and local finances for 2009, 2010, and 2011 using newly released Census Bureau revised data.

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Christopher Chantrill.

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