The U.S. government deficit in the first three months of the budget year was a record $ 572.9 billion, 60.7 percent higher than the same period a year ago, as spending for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic increased while incomes declined.
The Treasury Department reported on Wednesday that three months after the start of the budget year, the deficit was $ 216.3 billion higher than the same October-December period a year ago.
The deficit reflects an 18.3% jump in spending to $ 1.38 trillion, a record for the period, while revenues fell 0.4% to $ 803.37 billion. Red ink results from the difference between income and expense.
In December alone, the deficit totaled a record $ 143.6 billion.
The shortfall for the 2020 budget year, which ended on September 30, hit a record high of $ 3.1 trillion. Starting in the spring, Congress passed more than $ 1 trillion in spending measures to combat damage to the economy from a pandemic-induced downturn.
The recession, which has seen millions of Americans lose their jobs, has also resulted in lower tax revenues as demand for government support programs such as unemployment benefits and food stamps has increased.
The report showed spending in December was a record $ 489.7 billion, while revenue was $ 346.1 billion.
The spending figure did not include the $ 900 billion relief package that Congress finally passed after months of wrangling because it was not enacted until the end of the month. President Donald Trump has delayed signing the bill, which he called a disgrace because it only included $ 600 in direct payments to individuals.
President-elect Joe Biden has approved the increase in out-of-pocket payments by an additional $ 1,400. He said a higher amount would be included in another round of relief payments that he will ask Congress to approve once he takes office on January 20.
In addition to out-of-pocket payments, the December relief bill extended two special unemployment benefit programs aimed at cushioning the blow from the pandemic. Unemployment benefits totaled $ 80 billion from October to December, up from $ 5 billion in the same period last fiscal year.
The Congressional Budget Office has forecast that this year’s deficit will total $ 1.8 trillion and that the deficit will remain above $ 1 trillion each year until 2030. Additional spending Congress could spend after taking office by Biden.
Nancy Vanden Houten, senior economist at Oxford Economics, predicts this year’s deficit will reach at least $ 2.6 trillion, an estimate that assumes stimulus checks will rise to a total of $ 2,000.
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