Federal government revenue equates to about $110,000 of revenue per second.
In the time it takes you to read this statement, that’s roughly $1 million in revenue.
$3.5 trillion is the same amount as 71 million individuals each receiving a salary of $49,000 per year
(roughly equal to the average annual salary of someone in the construction industry).
Source - Bureau of Labor Statistics
$3.5 trillion equates to the average U.S. household contributing $2,300 per month.
That is roughly equal to the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Boston, MA ($2,320/month).
$3.5 trillion equates to the revenue of the top 25 companies in the S&P 500.
Figures based on 2018 10-K reports for S&P 500 Companies
The federal government collects revenue from a variety of sources, including individual income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, and excise taxes. It also collects revenue from services like admission to national parks and customs duties.
The majority of federal revenue comes from individual and corporate income taxes as well as social insurance taxes. When individuals and corporations earn more money, they pay more in taxes, and thus federal revenue increases. Alternatively, if they make the same amount, but tax rates increase, the federal revenue will also increase. Decreases in federal revenue are largely due to either individuals or corporations making less money or a decrease in tax rates.
Data used throughout this site is provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and refers to Fiscal Year 2019.
Federal government spending equates to about $140,000 per second.
In just 10 seconds, that's $1,400,000 in spending.
$4.4 trillion is equivalent to a little more than $13,500 in spending per U.S. individual.
Source - U.S. Census Bureau
$4.4 trillion equates to the average household spending $2,900 per month.
That is roughly equal to renting a three-bedroom apartment in Santa Rosa, CA ($2,903/month).
$4.4 trillion is equivalent to building a new four-lane road from Washington D.C. to San Francisco and back...132 times! (That's 741,000 miles of roadway!)
The federal government funds a variety of programs and services that support the American public. The federal government also spends money on interest it has incurred on outstanding federal debt, including Treasury notes and bonds.
Government spending can be broken down into two categories: mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory spending is determined by previous law and includes spending for programs like Social Security and Medicare. Discretionary spending is determined by the President and Congress each year in the budget and appropriations process. First, the President puts together a budget proposal and sends it to Congress. Then, the House and Senate both draft budget resolutions. Congress can change funding levels, as well as add or eliminate programs, taxes, and other sources of revenue. Once the budget resolutions have been finalized in the House and Senate, Congress reconciles the differences and votes on a final budget. The discretionary spending levels in the budget are divided among the twelve Appropriations Subcommittees, who then draft bills providing funding levels for the Departments, bureaus and agencies within their jurisdiction. After the House and Senate agree to a final funding level for each bill, they are sent to the President for approval or veto.
$984 billion is almost 25 times the amount of credit card debt Americans created in 2019 ($40 billion).
Source - Federal Reserve Bank of New York
$984 billion breaks down to about $7,700 of deficit spending per household in 2019.
In 2019, there were an estimated 128 million households in the United States.
Source - U.S. Census Bureau
$984 billion equates to $1.9 million in deficit spending every minute for an entire year.
A deficit occurs when money going out exceeds the money coming in. In 2019, the federal government spent more than it collected.
A surplus occurs when the government collects more money than it spends. The last federal surplus occurred in 2001. The government primarily uses surpluses to reduce the federal debt.
If the federal debt was split evenly among households, your household's share would be roughly $177,000.
That is about equal to the median home price in Florida ($178,700).
Source - U.S. Census Bureau
To pay for a deficit, the federal government borrows additional funds, which increases the debt. The total debt that the federal government owes is essentially the accumulation of deficits over time, minus debt repaid by any surpluses, plus debt that the Treasury owes to other parts of the federal government. Other activities contribute to the change in federal debt, such as changes in the Treasury's operating cash account and federal student loans.
Are federal debt and deficit the same thing? No, but they do affect one another.
It can, and does. While the Department of the Treasury prints actual dollars, “printing money” is also a term that is sometimes used to describe a means of monetary policy, which is conducted by the Federal Reserve. Monetary policy involves controlling the supply of money and the cost of borrowing. The Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates on the behalf of the Congress. The federal government uses fiscal policy, or the control of taxation and government spending, to promote economic activity.
This analysis was conducted using the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) as the data source for federal government revenue and spending of the United States and the Monthly Statement of the Public Debt (MSPD) as the data source for federal debt.
U.S. Census Bureau data was used for population and household estimates. Median home price estimates are also provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. Rent estimates come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics was used for wage estimates. Information on the amount of credit card debt added by Americans comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data. The annual 10-K reports of the top S&P 500 companies were compiled in order to find the equivalent revenue from companies to match the federal government’s revenue for the year. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association provides information about the cost of building new roads derived from the cost models of different states.
We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's books, so that every member of Congress, and every person of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them.
Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1802
Your Guide to America's Finances is a re-invention of the Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the U.S. Government. This site was created in response to the public’s desire to learn more about the financial picture of the United States. Where does the money come from? Where does it go? What are the trends over time, and how does the U.S. compare to other countries? This guide was created to make federal financial information open and accessible to all - reflecting the very principles that our founding fathers set forth when the United States was formed.
Your Guide to America's Finances is brought to you by the U.S. Department of the Treasury