Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. The following contains budget data for March 2021, which brings us halfway through fiscal year (FY) 2021.

Current Federal Deficit

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  • Federal Budget Deficit for March 2021: $660 billion
  • Federal Budget Deficit for March 2020: $119 billion

The deficit for March 2021 was $541 billion larger than the deficit recorded in March 2020. Certain payments were shifted out of March 2020 because March 1 fell on a weekend. Without those shifts, the deficit in March 2021 would have been $489 billion larger than the deficit in March 2020.

Cumulative Federal Deficit

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  • Cumulative FY21 Deficit Through March 2021: $1,706 billion
  • Cumulative Budget Deficit Over Same Period in FY20: $743 billion

The cumulative deficit for the first six months of FY21 was $963 billion larger than it was through the first six months of FY20. The increase in the cumulative deficit reflects a $1,063 billion increase in outlays that was only partially offset by a $100 billion increase in revenues.

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National Debt

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  • Debt Held by the Public at the end of March 2021: $22.0 trillion
  • Debt Held by the Public at the end of March 2020: $17.7 trillion

The sizeable deficit in FY20, and so far in FY21, has pushed up the current amount of debt held by the public by 24 percent relative to a year ago. Eventually, once the situation has stabilized, policymakers should turn their focus to the country’s underlying fiscal situation.

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