Federal Deficit and Debt: February 2021

Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. The following contains budget data for February 2021, which was the fifth month of fiscal year (FY) 2021.

Current Federal Deficit

The federal government ran a budget deficit in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2020

  • Federal Budget Deficit for February 2021: $311 billion
  • Federal Budget Deficit for February 2020: $235 billion

The deficit for February 2021 was $76 billion larger than the deficit recorded in February 2020. Certain payments were shifted out of February 2020 because February 1 fell on a weekend; other payments were shifted into February 2020 because March 1 fell on a weekend. Without those shifts, the deficit in February 2021 would have been $73 billion larger than the deficit in February 2020.

Cumulative Federal Deficit

Cumulative budget deficits have been larger in recent years

  • Cumulative FY21 Deficit Through February 2021: $1,047 billion
  • Cumulative Budget Deficit Over Same Period in FY20: $624 billion

The cumulative deficit for the first five months of FY21 was $422 billion larger than it was through the first five months of FY20. The increase in the cumulative deficit reflects a $492 billion increase in outlays that was only partially offset by a $70 billion increase in revenues.

Because March 1, 2020 fell on a weekend, certain payments were shifted into February 2020. Without those shifts, the deficit for the first five months of FY 2021 would have been $474 billion larger than it was during the first five months of FY 2020.

Spending to date is currently outpacing spending from the same period last fiscal year

Revenues to date are largely outpacing revenues from the same time last fiscal year

National Debt

The national debt is on an unsustainable path

  • Debt Held by the Public at the end of February 2021: $21.8 trillion
  • Debt Held by the Public at the end of February 2020: $17.4 trillion

The sizeable deficit in FY20 has pushed up the current amount of debt held by the public by 25 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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