Federal Deficit and Debt: May 2019

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


Current Federal Deficit

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

  • Federal Budget Surplus for May 2019: $208 billion
  • Federal Budget Surplus for May 2018: $147 billion

The deficit for May 2019 was $61 billion larger than recorded in May 2018. However, outlays in May 2019 were increased by shifts in the timing of certain federal payments. Without those shifts, the May 2019 deficit would have been $11 billion larger 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 May 2019: $739 billion
  • Cumulative Budget Deficit over Same Period in FY18: $532 billion

The cumulative deficit through the first eight months of FY19 was $206 billion larger than it was through the first eight months of FY18. However, because October 1, 2017 fell on a weekend, $44 billion of payments were shifted forward to September 2017, which reduced the deficit recorded for FY18. In addition, because June 1, 2019 fell on a weekend, $50 billion of payments were shifted forward to May 2019, which increased the deficit recorded for FY19. If not for those shifts, the deficit for the first eight months of FY19 would have increased by $112 billion.


National Debt

The national debt is on an unsustainable path

  • Debt Held by the Public through May 2019: $16.2 trillion
  • Debt Held by the Public through May 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.

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