In 2018, the government spent $4.1 trillion.
Where does all the money go? The government spends money on a variety of programs to promote the well-being of Americans. Why does the federal government do this? The Constitution provides an answer! The Constitution’s preamble states that the purpose of our government is “…to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
How much is $4.1 trillion in federal spending? If you divide it by the U.S. population estimate in 2018, 327.7 million (U.S. Census Bureau), it would equate to a little more than $12,500 in federal spending for every individual.
Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the size of the nation's economy by the total value of final goods and services that are produced in a year. Gross domestic product is used to compare the economies of different countries, measure growth in the economy, and determine the right monetary policies to address inflation and unemployment.
In this visualization, one dot represents $1 billion of federal spending.
The visualization was created using the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) as the data source for federal government spending of the United States. Gross domestic product (GDP) figures come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The spending-to-gross domestic product ratio is included to provide you with context for the trillions of dollars that go out from the federal government annually. Throughout this page, we use the gross domestic product for the Fiscal Year, not the Calendar Year, in order to facilitate an appropriate comparison.