Oct 16, 2020 - Economy & Business

U.S. federal deficit soars to record $3.1 trillion in 2020

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin participate in the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 21, 2020 in Washington, DC
Trump and Mnuchin participate in a briefing at the White House. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The U.S. budget deficit hit a record $3.1 trillion in the 2020 fiscal year, according to data released Friday by the Treasury Department.

Why it matters: The deficit — which measures the gap between what the government spends and what it brings in through taxes and other revenue streams — illustrates the massive impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the economy.

  • The shortfall easily eclipsed the previous record set in 2009, when the deficit was $1.4 trillion, per CNBC.

By the numbers:

  • The federal government spent $6.552 trillion for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, according government data. That's up from $4.447 trillion spent last fiscal year.
  • The government brought in $3.42 trillion in tax revenue in the 2020 fiscal year, down slightly from 2019.
  • Much of the 2020 deficit can be attributed to the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, passed in March.

What they're saying: In a statement on Friday, Treasury said the deficit was $2 trillion more than originally forecast due to actions taken to stem the economic impact of the coronavirus.

  • “Thanks to President Trump’s pro-growth policies and the bipartisan CARES Act, we are experiencing a strong economic recovery,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday. 
  • “The Administration remains fully committed to supporting American workers, families, and businesses and to ensuring that our robust economic rebound continues,” Mnuchin said.

The big picture: The data come as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House remain deadlocked in negotiations on a new round of stimulus aid.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday said he would not put a potential $1.8 trillion deal struck by democrats and the Trump administration on the Senate floor, noting the number is “a much larger amount than I can sell to my members."

Go deeper: Employment gains are reversing course

Go deeper