National Debt History

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The national debt of the United States is the amount owed by the federal government of the United States.

The content of this web page is arranged under the following headings:
1. Fiscal Years 1962-2016 Gross Federal Debt As Percentage of Gross Domestic Product
2. Fiscal Years 1962-2016 Gross Federal Debt Increases and Decreases
3. Fiscal Years 1962-2016 National Debt Composition
4. Social Security NOT Included In National Debt

 

1. Fiscal Years 1962-2016 Gross Federal Debt As Percentage of Gross Domestic Product

SOURCE: Table 7.1 "Federal Debt at the End of Year" from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Historical Tables at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals.

1962 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $302.928 billion = 51.6% of Gross Domestic Product
1963 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $310.324 billion = 50.1% of Gross Domestic Product
1964 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $316.059 billion = 47.7% of Gross Domestic Product
1965 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $322.318 billion = 45.4% of Gross Domestic Product
1966 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $328.498 billion = 42.0% of Gross Domestic Product
1967 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $340.445 billion = 40.6% of Gross Domestic Product
1968 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $368.685 billion = 41.0% of Gross Domestic Product
1969 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $365.769 billion = 37.2% of Gross Domestic Product
1970 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $380.921 billion = 36.3% of Gross Domestic Product
1971 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $408.176 billion = 36.5% of Gross Domestic Product
1972 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $435.936 billion = 35.7% of Gross Domestic Product
1973 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $466.291 billion = 34.4% of Gross Domestic Product
1974 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $483.893 billion = 32.6% of Gross Domestic Product
1975 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $541.925 billion = 33.6% of Gross Domestic Product
1976 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $628.970 billion = 35.1% of Gross Domestic Product
1977 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $706.398 billion = 34.8% of Gross Domestic Product
1978 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $776.602 billion = 34.1% of Gross Domestic Product
1979 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $829.467 billion = 32.3% of Gross Domestic Product
1980 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $909.041 billion = 32.5% of Gross Domestic Product
1981 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $994.828 billion = 31.7% of Gross Domestic Product
1982 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $1.137315 trillion = 34.3% of Gross Domestic Product
1983 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $1.371660 trillion = 38.7% of Gross Domestic Product
1984 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $1.564586 trillion = 39.6% of Gross Domestic Product
1985 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $1.817423 trillion = 42.6% of Gross Domestic Product
1986 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $2.120501 trillion = 46.7% of Gross Domestic Product
1987 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $2.345956 trillion = 49.1% of Gross Domestic Product
1988 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $2.601104 trillion = 50.5% of Gross Domestic Product
1989 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $2.867800 trillion = 51.5% of Gross Domestic Product
1990 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $3.206290 trillion = 54.2% of Gross Domestic Product
1991 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $3.598178 trillion = 58.9% of Gross Domestic Product
1992 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $4.001787 trillion = 62.2% of Gross Domestic Product
1993 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $4.351044 trillion = 64.0% of Gross Domestic Product
1994 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $4.643307 trillion = 64.5% of Gross Domestic Product
1995 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $4.920586 trillion = 64.9% of Gross Domestic Product
1996 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $5.181465 trillion = 64.9% of Gross Domestic Product
1997 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $5.369206 trillion = 63.3% of Gross Domestic Product
1998 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $5.478189 trillion = 61.2% of Gross Domestic Product
1999 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $5.605523 trillion = 58.9% of Gross Domestic Product
2000 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $5.628700 trillion = 55.5% of Gross Domestic Product
2001 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $5.769881 trillion = 54.6% of Gross Domestic Product
2002 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $6.198401 trillion = 57.0% of Gross Domestic Product
2003 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $6.760014 trillion = 59.7% of Gross Domestic Product
2004 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $7.354657 trillion = 60.8% of Gross Domestic Product
2005 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $7.905300 trillion = 61.3% of Gross Domestic Product
2006 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $8.451350 trillion = 61.8% of Gross Domestic Product
2007 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $8.950744 trillion = 62.5% of Gross Domestic Product
2008 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $9.986082 trillion = 67.7% of Gross Domestic Product
2009 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $11.875851 trillion = 82.4% of Gross Domestic Product
2010 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $13.528807 trillion = 91.4% of Gross Domestic Product
2011 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $14.764222 trillion = 96.0% of Gross Domestic Product
2012 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $16.050921 trillion = 100.1% of Gross Domestic Product
2013 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $16.719434 trillion = 101.2% of Gross Domestic Product
2014 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $17.794483 trillion = 103.3% of Gross Domestic Product
2015 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $18.120106 trillion = 101.2% of Gross Domestic Product
2016 Fiscal Year Gross Federal Debt = $19.539445 TRILLION = 106.1% of Gross Domestic Product

This data tabulation can be summarized as listed next.

(a) The Gross Federal Debt has exploded from $302.928 billion at the end of the 1962 Fiscal Year to $19.539445 TRILLION at the end of the 2016 Fiscal Year.

(b) The Gross Federal Debt at the end of the 2016 Fiscal Year was 64.5 times more than the Gross Federal Debt at the end of the 1962 Fiscal Year.

(c) The Gross Federal Debt was 51.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the end of the 1962 Fiscal Year – was lowered to 31.7% of the GDP at the end of the 1981 Fiscal Year – and exploded to 106.1% of the GDP at the end of the 2016 Fiscal Year.

 

2. Fiscal Years 1962-2016 Gross Federal Debt Increases and Decreases

SOURCE: Table 7.1 "Federal Debt at the End of Year" from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Historical Tables at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals.

$    292.648 billion Gross Federal Debt at the Beginning of 1962 Fiscal Year
$      10.280 billion Fiscal Year 1962 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$        7.396 billion Fiscal Year 1963 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$        5.735 billion Fiscal Year 1964 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$        6.259 billion Fiscal Year 1965 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$        6.180 billion Fiscal Year 1966 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      11.947 billion Fiscal Year 1967 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      28.240 billion Fiscal Year 1968 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$        2.916 billion Fiscal Year 1969 Gross Federal Debt DECREASE
$      15.152 billion Fiscal Year 1970 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      27.255 billion Fiscal Year 1971 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      27.760 billion Fiscal Year 1972 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      30.355 billion Fiscal Year 1973 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      17.602 billion Fiscal Year 1974 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      58.032 billion Fiscal Year 1975 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      87.045 billion Fiscal Year 1976 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      77.428 billion Fiscal Year 1977 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      70.204 billion Fiscal Year 1978 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      52.865 billion Fiscal Year 1979 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      79.574 billion Fiscal Year 1980 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      85.787 billion Fiscal Year 1981 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    142.487 billion Fiscal Year 1982 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    234.345 billion Fiscal Year 1983 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    192.926 billion Fiscal Year 1984 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    252.837 billion Fiscal Year 1985 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    303.078 billion Fiscal Year 1986 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    225.455 billion Fiscal Year 1987 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    255.148 billion Fiscal Year 1988 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    266.696 billion Fiscal Year 1989 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    338.490 billion Fiscal Year 1990 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    391.888 billion Fiscal Year 1991 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    403.609 billion Fiscal Year 1992 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    349.257 billion Fiscal Year 1993 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    292.263 billion Fiscal Year 1994 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    277.279 billion Fiscal Year 1995 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    260.879 billion Fiscal Year 1996 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    187.741 billion Fiscal Year 1997 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    108.983 billion Fiscal Year 1998 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    127.334 billion Fiscal Year 1999 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$      23.177 billion Fiscal Year 2000 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    141.181 billion Fiscal Year 2001 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    428.520 billion Fiscal Year 2002 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    561.613 billion Fiscal Year 2003 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    594.643 billion Fiscal Year 2004 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    550.643 billion Fiscal Year 2005 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    546.050 billion Fiscal Year 2006 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    499.394 billion Fiscal Year 2007 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.035338 trillion Fiscal Year 2008 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.889769 trillion Fiscal Year 2009 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.652956 trillion Fiscal Year 2010 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.235415 trillion Fiscal Year 2011 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.286699 trillion Fiscal Year 2012 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    668.513 billion Fiscal Year 2013 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.075049 trillion Fiscal Year 2014 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$    325.623 billion Fiscal Year 2015 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$  1.419339 trillion Fiscal Year 2016 Gross Federal Debt Increase
$19.539445 TRILLION Gross Federal Debt at the End of 2016 Fiscal Year

This data tabulation can be summarized as listed next.

(a) There was a Gross Federal Debt decrease in only one of the last 55 Fiscal Years (1969).

(b) It took 22 years from Fiscal Year 1962 through Fiscal Year 1983 for the Gross Federal Debt to increase more than $1 trillion.

(c) The Gross Federal Debt increased more than ONE TRILLION DOLLARS every one of the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016 Fiscal Years.

 

3. Fiscal Years 1962-2016 National Debt Composition

SOURCES: Tables 1.1 “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits” and 7.1 "Federal Debt at the End of Year" from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Historical Tables at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals.

The National Debt is composed of the sum of the (a) on-budget federal deficit (or surplus), (b) off-budget federal deficit (or surplus), and (c) supplemental appropriations.

(a) Federal on-budget receipt and outlay categories include Medicare; National Defense; Income Security; Health; Net Interest; Veterans Benefits and Services; Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services; Transportation; Administration of Justice; International Affairs; Natural Resources and Environment; General Science, Space, and Technology; General Government; Community and Regional Development; Agriculture; Energy; net receipts from Commerce and Housing Credit; and Undistributed Offsetting Receipts.

(b) Federal off-budget categories include Social Security payroll taxes and benefit payments, interest received by the Social Security trust funds, the net balance of the U.S. Postal Service, and some of the employer share of employee retirement.

(c) Supplemental appropriations are “outside the budget process” and add additional funding above and beyond what was originally budgeted at the beginning of a Fiscal Year. In general, supplemental funding is enacted to address cases where resources provided through the annual appropriations process are determined to be inadequate or not timely. Recent supplemental appropriations have been used to fund the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War, recovery from natural disasters, and Great Recession stimulus measures.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget does a good job of identifying the on-budget and off-budget receipts and outlays. On-budget deficits contributed $15.167808 trillion to the National Debt from the 1962 Fiscal Year through the 2016 Fiscal Year, while off-budget surpluses decreased the National Debt by $2.810965 trillion. The net on-budget and off-budget deficit was $12.356843 trillion ($15.167808 trillion less $2.810965 trillion).

From the 1962 Fiscal Year through the 2016 Fiscal Year, the National Debt increased a total of $19.246797 trillion. It can be determined that supplemental appropriations contributed $6.889954 trillion (or 35.8%) to the National Debt by subtracting the net on-budget and off-budget deficit of $12.356843 trillion from the total National Debt of $19.246797 trillion. However, our federal government does a very poor job of publicly revealing where the costly supplemental appropriations are spent. For example, a Congressional Budget Office report on supplemental appropriations for the Fiscal Years 2000 through 2016 show a total of $1.100212 trillion when the actual spending was $4.883644 trillion: see https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/appropriations/supplemental/17129-suppappropsfeb2017.pdf.

Details regarding the on-budget, off-budget, and supplemental appropriations composition of the National Debt are detailed in the following table:

National Debt Composition

Fiscal Years 1962-2016

(Trillions of Dollars)

(Compiled August 10, 2017)

Sources: U.S. Office of Management and Budget Historical Tables 1.1 and 7.1

              at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals 

Fiscal Year

On-Budget
Deficit (Surplus)

Off-Budget
Deficit (Surplus)

Supplemental
Appropriations

Gross Federal Debt
Increase (Decrease)

1962

$0.005881

$0.001265

$0.003134

$0.010280

1963

$0.003966

$0.000789

$0.002641

$0.007396

1964

$0.006546

($0.000632)

($0.000179)

$0.005735

1965

$0.001605

($0.000194)

$0.004848

$0.006259

1966

$0.003068

$0.000630

$0.002482

$0.006180

1967

$0.012620

($0.003978)

$0.003305

$0.011947

1968

$0.027742

($0.002581)

$0.003079

$0.028240

1969

$0.000507

($0.003749)

$0.000326

($0.002916)

1970

$0.008694

($0.005852)

$0.012310

$0.015152

1971

$0.026052

($0.003019)

$0.004222

$0.027255

1972

$0.026068

($0.002695)

$0.004387

$0.027760

1973

$0.015246

($0.000338)

$0.015447

$0.030355

1974

$0.007198

($0.001063)

$0.011467

$0.017602

1975

$0.054148

($0.000906)

$0.004790

$0.058032

1976

$0.069427

$0.004306

$0.013312

$0.087045

1977

$0.049933

$0.003726

$0.023769

$0.077428

1978

$0.055416

$0.003770

$0.011018

$0.070204

1979

$0.039633

$0.001093

$0.012139

$0.052865

1980

$0.073141

$0.000689

$0.005744

$0.079574

1981

$0.073859

$0.005109

$0.006819

$0.085787

1982

$0.120593

$0.007384

$0.014510

$0.142487

1983

$0.207692

$0.000110

$0.026543

$0.234345

1984

$0.185269

$0.000098

$0.007559

$0.192926

1985

$0.221529

($0.009222)

$0.040530

$0.252837

1986

$0.237915

($0.016688)

$0.081851

$0.303078

1987

$0.168357

($0.018627)

$0.075725

$0.225455

1988

$0.192265

($0.037087)

$0.099970

$0.255148

1989

$0.205393

($0.052754)

$0.114057

$0.266696

1990

$0.277626

($0.056590)

$0.117454

$0.338490

1991

$0.321435

($0.052198)

$0.122651

$0.391888

1992

$0.340408

($0.050087)

$0.113288

$0.403609

1993

$0.300398

($0.045347)

$0.094206

$0.349257

1994

$0.258840

($0.055654)

$0.089077

$0.292263

1995

$0.226367

($0.062415)

$0.113327

$0.277279

1996

$0.174019

($0.066588)

$0.153448

$0.260879

1997

$0.103248

($0.081364)

$0.165857

$0.187741

1998

$0.029925

($0.099195)

$0.178253

$0.108983

1999

($0.001920)

($0.123690)

$0.252944

$0.127334

2000

($0.086422)

($0.149819)

$0.259418

$0.023177

2001

$0.032445

($0.160681)

$0.269417

$0.141181

2002

$0.317417

($0.159659)

$0.270762

$0.428520

2003

$0.538418

($0.160833)

$0.184028

$0.561613

2004

$0.567961

($0.155234)

$0.181916

$0.594643

2005

$0.493611

($0.175265)

$0.232297

$0.550643

2006

$0.434494

($0.186313)

$0.297869

$0.546050

2007

$0.342153

($0.181452)

$0.338693

$0.499394

2008

$0.641848

($0.183295)

$0.576785

$1.035338

2009

$1.549681

($0.136993)

$0.477081

$1.889769

2010

$1.371378

($0.077005)

$0.358583

$1.652956

2011

$1.366781

($0.067182)

($0.064184)

$1.235415

2012

$1.148868

($0.061913)

$0.199744

$1.286699

2013

$0.719005

($0.039463)

($0.011029)

$0.668513

2014

$0.514112

($0.029512)

$0.590449

$1.075049

2015

$0.465791

($0.027295)

($0.112873)

$0.325623

2016

$0.620158

($0.035507)

$0.834688

$1.419339

TOTALS

$15.167808

($2.810965)

$6.889954

$19.246797

 

4. Social Security NOT Included In National Debt

The net combined federal on-budget and off-budget outlays for the 2016 Fiscal Year (from Table 3.2 “Outlays by Function and Subfunction” at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals) are summarized as follows:

Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Outlays By Function
 
$  916.067 billion Social Security (23.0% of total)
 $  594.536 billion Medicare (14.9% of total)
 $  593.372 billion National Defense (14.9% of total)
 $  514.139 billion Income Security (12.9% of total)
 $  511.317 billion Health (12.8% of total)
 $  240.033 billion Net Interest (6.0% of total)
 $  174.516 billion Veterans Benefits and Services (4.4% of total)
 $  109.737 billion Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services (2.8% of total)
 $    92.566 billion Transportation (2.3% of total)
 $    55.768 billion Administration of Justice (1.4% of total)
 $    45.306 billion International Affairs (1.1% of total)
 $    39.534 billion Natural Resources and Environment (1.0% of total)
 $    30.174 billion General Science, Space, and Technology (0.8% of total)
 $    22.674 billion General Government (0.6% of total)
 $    20.140 billion Community and Regional Development (0.5% of total)
 $    18.342 billion Agriculture (0.5% of total)
 $      3.719 billion Energy (0.1% of total)
 $3.981940 trillion TOTAL OUTLAYS
-$   34.077 billion net receipts from Commerce and Housing Credit
-$   95.251 billion Undistributed Offsetting Receipts
 $3.852612 trillion NET OUTLAYS

Social Security is funded pay-as-you-go by the payroll taxes of current workers to pay the benefits of current retirees: see Table 13.1 “Cash Income, Outgo, and Balances of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds” at https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals.

There are two Social Security Trust Funds. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund had a $30.066 billion surplus that increased the fund balance to $2.796712 trillion – there are sufficient reserves to pay full OASI benefits on time until 2035. The Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund had a $4.084 billion surplus that increased the fund balance to $45.740 billion – there are sufficient reserves to pay full DI benefits on time until 2028. Lawmakers can close or reduce Social Security’s long-term financing shortfall by (a) increasing revenues from workers and employers by raising the tax rate or the maximum level of taxable earnings (or by dedicating revenues from other sources), (b) lowering benefits for some or all beneficiaries by changing certain program parameters, or (c) a combination of these approaches.

Social Security accounted for 23.0% of the total federal on-budget and off-budget outlays in the 2016 Fiscal Year, but these Social Security outlays DID NOT add to the National Debt because they were pay-as-you-go

Watchdog Vigilance Home Page Health Care Policies Pertinent Historical Data National Health Expenditures Federal Government Health Programs Spending Medicare Expansion (ME)

This page was last updated on 08/15/17.