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Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. The following contains budget data for February 2022, which was the fifth month of fiscal year (FY) 2022.
The budget ran a deficit of $217 billion in February 2022, an improvement of $94 billion from the deficit recorded in February 2021. This February, outlays were $53 billion lower than they were in the same month last year, and revenues were $42 billion higher.
The cumulative deficit for the first five months of FY22 was $571 billion less than it was through the first five months of FY21, reflecting a $371 billion increase in revenues and a $201 billion decrease in outlays.
The growth in revenues stems primarily from higher wages and salaries that resulted in increased withholding of individual income and payroll taxes. The decrease in outlays was driven by lower payments for unemployment insurance and the waning of programs to address the economic effects of the pandemic, such as loans and loan guarantees to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program and stimulus payments. In addition, the government has collected $81 billion in receipts from auctions of electromagnetic spectrum this year (relative to just $4 billion during this period last year).
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, debt held by the public has increased by 35 percent. Once the situation has stabilized, policymakers should turn their focus to the country’s underlying fiscal situation.