Federal Deficit and Debt: March 2020

Every month the U.S. Treasury releases data on the federal budget, including the current deficit. The following contains budget data for March 2020, which was the sixth month of fiscal year (FY) 2020.

The budget results for March were not significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or by the federal government's response to it. Those effects will become more noticeable in April.


Current Federal Deficit

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

  • Federal Budget Deficit for March 2020: $119 billion
  • Federal Budget Deficit for March 2019: $147 billion

The deficit for March 2020 was $28 billion smaller than the deficit recorded in March 2019. However, this March was affected by shifts in federal payments because the first of the month fell on a weekend. Without those shifts, the March 2020 deficit would have been about $24 billion larger than the March 2019 deficit.


Cumulative Federal Deficit

Cumulative budget deficits have been larger in recent years

  • Cumulative FY20 Deficit through March 2020: $744 billion
  • Cumulative Budget Deficit over same period in FY19: $691 billion

The cumulative deficit through the first six months of FY20 was $52 billion larger than it was through the first six months of FY19. The increase in the cumulative deficit reflects a $149 billion increase in outlays partially offset by a $96 billion increase in revenues.

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 March 2020: $17.7 trillion
  • Debt Held by the Public through March 2019: $16.2 trillion

The deficit varies from month to month and some months may even record a surplus — for example, when taxpayers are submitting their personal income taxes at the filing deadline. That is typically in April but has been extended to July this year.

The Fiscal Response to the Coronavirus

Here’s everything Congress has done to respond to the coronavirus so far.

National Debt Clock

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

Peter G. Peterson Foundation
© 2020 Peter G. Peterson Foundation. All rights reserved.