Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. Here is the latest data for Fiscal Year 2018, charted out monthly and on a year-over-year basis. This month’s release contains budget data for September 2018, which is the final month of fiscal year 2018. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), September is a month in which the government receives substantial revenues from payments of estimated individual and corporate income taxes. As a result, September is typically a surplus month for the federal budget.

Current Federal Deficit

Federal debt is on an unsustainable path


  • Federal Budget Surplus for September 2018: $119 billion
  • Federal Budget Surplus for September 2017: $8 billion

The surplus for September 2018 is more than $60 billion higher than it otherwise would have been. Spending that normally would have occurred in September was shifted forward into August since the regularly scheduled payment dates fell on a weekend or holiday.

Cumulative Federal Deficit

The budget deficit has grown rapidly in the first ten months of fiscal year 2018


  • Cumulative FY18 Deficit: $779 billion
  • Cumulative FY17 Deficit: $666 billion

The rapid growth of the deficit this year is likely the leading edge of continued growth in future deficits and an indication of the harmful fiscal effects of policies enacted over the previous several months.

National Debt

The national debt is on an unsustainable path


  • Debt Held by Public through Fiscal Year 2018: $15.8 trillion
  • Debt Held by Public through Fiscal Year 2017: $14.7 trillion

While the deficit varies from month-to-month, and may even decline some months — for example, in April when taxpayers are submitting their personal income taxes — debt and deficits are on an unsustainable upward trajectory. The CBO projects that national debt could rise to about 150 percent of gross domestic product by 2048. That level of debt would far exceed the 50-year historical average of approximately 40% of GDP.

Why are such high-levels of debt so concerning? There are many reasons that Americans should be concerned about the rising national debt — particularly if you are concerned about economic growth, investments in our nation’s future, and preservation of our social safety net.

Why Fiscal Issues Matter in the 2018 Election

This election season is a critical opportunity for candidates to talk to voters about solutions to put us on a better path.


This series of infographics helps put some of today's most pressing fiscal debates in context.

Peter G. Peterson Foundation
© 2018 Peter G. Peterson Foundation. All rights reserved.