Federal Deficit and Debt: March 2019

Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. The following contains budget data for March 2019, which was the sixth month of fiscal year 2019.

Current Federal Deficit

The federal government ran a deficit in five of the first six months of Fiscal Year 2019

  • Federal Budget Deficit for March 2019: $147 billion
  • Federal Budget Deficit for March 2018: $209 billion

The deficit for March 2019 was $62 billion smaller than recorded in March 2018. However, outlays in March 2018 were increased by shifts in the timing of certain federal payments. Without those shifts, the March 2019 deficit would have been $16 billion smaller than it was a year ago.

Cumulative Federal Deficit

The budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2019 is currently outpacing prior years

  • Cumulative FY19 Deficit through March 2019: $691 billion
  • Cumulative Budget Deficit over Same Period in FY18: $600 billion

The cumulative deficit through the first six months of FY19 was $91 billion larger than it was through the first six months of FY18. That reflects a $102 billion increase in outlays, partially offset by a $10 billion increase in receipts.

National Debt

The national debt is on an unsustainable path

  • Debt Held by the Public through March 2019: $16.2 trillion
  • Debt Held by the Public through March 2018: $15.4 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.

Expert Views: Fiscal Commission

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National Debt Clock

See the latest numbers and learn more about the causes of our high and rising debt.