Monday, March 30, 2009

How We Got the Data for

THE government spending tables on this site aggregate all government spending in the United States of America by fiscal year organized by government function.
Most of the data is actual government spending as reported by the Office of Management and Budget or the United States Census Bureau. But there is also interpolated data for the years not covered by the data sources. In addition, we have included budgeted and estimated spending as well. We have used color and italics to tell you the source of each item of spending.
Here is the key:
  • Actual reported government spending is shown in blue text
  • Interpolated data filling in for missing years in the source records is shown in blue italic text
  • Budgeted spending is shown in normal text
  • Estimated spending is shown in italic text
  • “Guesstimated” spending, i.e. future state and local spending projected by, is shown in red italic text
You can use controls on the table to change the year or to drill down to view more detailed spending information.

Data Sources

The government spending information is obtained from several sources of data.

Federal spending since 1962 is obtained from a spreadsheet file Table 3.2 - Outlays by Function and Subfunction in Budget of the United States Government published by the Executive Office of the President of the United States. It contains actual historical federal government spending from 1962 to the fiscal year ending before the current budget, and budgeted and estimated spending the current fiscal year and out five years.

Federal revenue since 1962 is obtained from spreadsheet files Table 2.1 - Receipts by Source: 1934–2016,
Table 2.4 - Composition of Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts and of Excise Taxes: 1940–2016, and Table 2.5 - Composition of “Other Receipts”: 1940–2016.

State and local government spending from 1992 is obtained from tables of state and local government spending published annually by the United States Census Bureau. For instance, the data for fiscal year 2004 is available as a zip file: State by Level of Government - Comma Delimited.

State and local government spending from 1962 to 1991 is obtained from tables of state and local government spending in the Statistical Abstract of the United States published by the United States Census Bureau.

Federal, state, and local government spending prior to 1962 is obtained from “Series Y 605-637. Federal Government Expenditure, by Function: 1902 to 1970” and from “Series Y 682-709. State and Local Government Expenditure, by Function: 1902 to 1970.” These are tables included in Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 published by the United States Census Bureau.

This information is given in tabular form in Government Spending Data: Sources by Year.

Guesstimated Spending

The federal government provides budgetary data for the current year and the next year. It also provides estimated budgetary data for the following four years.
But the Census Bureau data on state and local spending is historical data only. It does not include any information on state and local budgets or on state and local government spending projections.
So at we have massaged the recent historical data to come up with a “guesstimate” of future state and local spending.
The method used is to take the average change in spending for the last four years of historical data and estimate the percentage change in spending that this represents, limiting the percentage change to plus 20 percent and zero. We then apply that percentage for each year after the last year in the Census Bureau data.
You will notice that this method has its problems. The line “All Other Spending” for states goes negative in the out years, because the rate of increase in individual programs presently exceeds the rate of increase in overall spending. That is what you call a “budget crisis.”

Interpolated Spending

There is published data available from government sources for all years from 1952 to the present. Between 1932 and 1950 the data in “Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970” is tabulated only for even numbered years. Before 1932 there is data given only for 1902, 1913, 1922, and 1927. For the missing years we have interpolated data from the information given in the published years.


  1. Hey Christopher, question: are the numbers adjusted for inflation? In comparing numbers from the 90's to now, just trying to make sure it is apples to apples. Thanks.

    1. Sure do wish someone would answer your question already.

  2. This is treasure trove of info. Am researching Cold War, and has been difficult to get figures for ACTUAL defense spending, which then allows one to calculate as percentage of total federal budget, as well as percentage of GDP. Most sites adjust spending for inflation, which then makes it difficult to compare figures against GDP or total government spending.
    One thing is clear--we spend whopping amounts on military. At the moment we are spending 2 billion dollars and up for one Aegis destroyer. There was one in here for port call last month and invited visitors aboard. We all thought ship was in Japan to deal with Korean situation. In fact, it was off to Indian Ocean to chase pirates. 2 billion to chase pirates??!!? plus cost of getting that ship from homeport in US (Seattle) to Indian Ocean.

    Denis Jonnes
    Dept. of Anglo-American Studies
    The University of Kitakyushu

  3. These numbers are completely innaccurate, and do not include the costs of military spending, which in essence is greater than 50% of our federal budget. I love how you are advocating an idiot woman who is an insult to the female gender and making these numbers look legit. Good luck at the pearly gates....

    1. You can't enter the pearly gates by trying to be perfect. Otherwise none of us would make it. It is only by faith. If you believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he came down and died for our mistakes, ask him for forgiveness and for him to be the Lord of your life then by God's grace you will enter in.

  4. Anonymous of June 28 is probably referring to the analysis of the federal budget by the War Resisters League. The analysis assumes that interest payments on the national debt represent "Past Military" expenditures.

  5. Mr. Chantrill,
    I always read about u.s "interest" payment on its debt, but what about the principal payments on u.s debt?.
    I guess, interest plus principal is the total amount of us debt service. I understand u.s goverment issue bonds, then pays interest for those bonds, and when those bonds mature they have to pay the principal; so why dont they count it? why there is only the "interest" account in the us national budget, excluding principals payments to bonds when mature?

    I would like to know the anualy total amount of debt service in the public debt(excluding intragivermental debt)
    In your web there is the "Interest on Treasury Debt Securities (gross)" but missing principal

    I would greatly appreciate an answer, please,

  6. What are the balances of Trust Funds for Social Security, Medicare, Highways, Housing, etc. Trust Funds? These numbers would be useful to fill in the missing pieces. These Treasury Bills held by these Trust Funds need replacing with increases to General Revenue through Income Taxes or Excise Taxes. Raising these is the only way to redeem those Treasuries and pay off obligations for Social Security, Medicare, Highways, Housing. It is poor governance and conflict of interest to have those Trust Funds managed by the Secretary of the Treasury. Clearly, Paulson protected his own private shareholding in Goldman when he pushed through the $700B bailout. That shareholding was estimated at $600M.

  7. Also, would be interesting to see the subsidies and where they hit tax revenues. This information is not presented in any tables about revenues or outlays. These subsidies are a combination of direct spending and tax subsidies. These uncollected taxes represent money we need to know about to really understand the Federal Budget and Deficits. There is a lot of opacity and subterfuge going on about this since the biggest beneficiaries are the Top 1% who own more than 50% of the stock in all our US corporations. They get to keep 1/2 of the profits of the entire corporate sector.

    1. While Wikipedia is helpful, it is not considered a scholarly source, just saying it!

  8. Please end the massive stupidity in this country we need to get rid of the Dept of Education as they are only helping to lower IQ around the country. Example ; "There is a lot of opacity and subterfuge going on about this since the biggest beneficiaries are the Top 1% who own more than 50% of the stock in all our US corporations. They get to keep 1/2 of the profits of the entire corporate sector."

    Where to begin, I know simple baby steps for the baby. 1) All families with HOH between the age of 35 to 54 as per the stock ownership represent as of 1998 (last available data set) 48.8% of stock owners up from 31.6% as of 1985.
    2) All families with median income for HOH between $50,000 to $99,999 owned 74.3% of family holdings in stock up from 51.5% same years for comparisons.
    3) Owning a share of stock does not get you on the company payroll and you do not have anymore connection to the company then someone who bought a light bulb from GE or a TV from Samsung. Your ownership is in a certificate that is traded and value based on the co. production and value that stock share has to others. You can not take your stock back to the company and ask for money or for that co to change their product. Once sold as an IPO they have no interest in it again.

    For the "intellectual left" out there who want to educate themselves, the info above represent both direct and indirect holdings, those in mutual funds, retirement accounts, and other managed assets. Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Reserve Bulletin, January 2000, and unpublished data.

    1. Wow!.....And for those who can't communicate on even a paraprofessional level of standard, maybe we should ask the Dept. of Ed to make college level Speech/Communication classes mandatory for High School graduation. Ever here of Dale Carnegie? Hip yourself to his courses in business etiquette! LOL

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  10. Hi Christopher, Trust you are doing well today and first of all Happy Thanks Giving day. Just wanted to know what is the FY13 US dollar exchange rate to Indian Rupee conversion that is predicted. Can you please help with any data that you might have which can be used as part of budgets. Thanks and Looking forward

    Have a nice day

  11. Hi, there!
    I am glad I found this site., Thank you!
    There are two questions I never could answer by myswelf. I was wondering if you guys know the answer.
    1) I was relying on the OECD "statistic economic data" table for the US. Should I assume that OECD (although they make absolutely no mention of it!) combine federal, state AND local together?
    2) When people in everyday life (or, say newspapers, and TV) talk about the "US budget deficit" do they refer to federal ONLY or federal, state and local combined? And do these guys usually refer to this after or before interests! I find amazing that very few (if no) sources mention this, since it mames SO MUCH difference in the numbers at the end!!

    But koodos to you! You are perhaps one of the few people who actually make an effort to be as rigorous as possible. Thanks! Ray

    1. 1. Not sure what OECD table you are looking at.

      2. "US budget deficit" usually refers to federal budget deficit and doesn't include state and local.

    2. Hello, there, Christopher. Thanks for your reply.

      1. In terms of the OECD data, I was referring to the one called "Country statistical profile: United States 2011-2012" in the OECD iLibrary. I would think that it includes both federal, state and local, but it's really not very clear.
      2. You answered that "US budget deficit" usually refers to federal budget deficit and doesn't include state and local. I am sure that is the correct answer, and that is also what I was suspecting. I remain amazed, though, that this would be the case. I mean... shouldn't people/ data-releasing organization realize how misleading such way of reporting is? If you only include federal data without data & local, ins't really a way to misleadingly say that the debt of a country is, x, when in fact it is closer to "2 times x"? Not sure if you, or some of you guys also ever scratched your head on this issue!
      3. In terms of my previous posting, I was also wondering if, in normal parlance, when we refer to "US budget deficit" we also include "interest costs for public debt". People never seem to mention that.
      Thanks! Ray

    3. 1. Yes, the OECD data includes federal, state, and local.

      2. There is an excuse for not including state and local deficits and debt. The data for state and local isn't available immediately. State and local data for 2010 is due in a couple weeks.

  12. Hi Christopher can i have the effect on GDP; savings; employement; government spendings for the passed 30 years that is precised from 1982 to 2011 of USA. if possible the database with numerical values. thanks


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