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

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

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