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Federal Debt Trends Over Time

Debt Debt to GDP
Federal debt steadily rose from $5.7 trillion in 2000 to $10 trillion in 2008. In response to actions taken to address the Great Recession, federal debt increased at a faster rate after 2008. Federal debt rose from $10 trillion in 2008 to $16 trillion in 2012. Federal debt exceeded $20 trillion for the first time in 2017 and reached $22.7 trillion by the end of 2019. Another way to look at trends in federal debt is to compare it to the size of the economy, as measured by gross domestic product. Federal debt as a percent of gross domestic product in 2000 was 55%. By 2008, this ratio had reached 68%. From 2008 to 2012 federal debt as a percent of gross domestic product increased to 99% and has remained above 100% since 2016. By the end of 2019 the ratio stood at 107%.

This visualization was created using the Monthly Statement of the Public Debt (MSPD) as the data source for federal debt of the United States. Gross domestic product (GDP) figures come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). GDP data is current as of June 2019, and is seasonally adjusted at an annual rate to show expected GDP for the year. For more information about how GDP is calculated, visit the Bureau of Economic Analysis' National Income and Product Account Handbook. Throughout this page, we use the gross domestic product for the Fiscal Year, not the Calendar Year, in order to facilitate an appropriate comparison.

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