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What is the Debt of the United States?

The United States' national debt is a staggering figure, exceeding $31 trillion. This amount reflects the government's borrowing to cover expenses surpassing revenue. It's a complex issue, with implications for economic stability and future generations. Understanding its roots and consequences is crucial for informed citizenship. How might this debt affect you personally and the nation's fiscal health? Let's explore further.
L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn

The United States government's debt is very high. The interest on the debt has become a significant component of the US budget. The chart below illustrates the growth in the public debt over the years. The figures represent the official historical figures of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Please note that the dollar amounts are in billions of US Dollars and are not adjusted for inflation. The term "deficit" refers to the annual increase to the overall debt figures illustrated below. The figures in the table represent the end-of-year figures.

As of 2010, the U.S. debt was equal to about $29,000 for every person in the country.
As of 2010, the U.S. debt was equal to about $29,000 for every person in the country.

By way of example, the total deficit on in 2010 was just over $9,000 billion US Dollars (USD), or $9 trillion USD. When you divide this figure by 309 million, which is approximately the entire population of the United States that year, you are left with over $29,000 USD for every man, woman and child.

Debt in Billions of USD
1962 $248.0 u.s. debt in 1962
1963 $254.0 u.s. debt in 1963
1964 $256.8 u.s. debt in 1964
1965 $260.8 u.s. debt in 1965
1966 $263.7 u.s. debt in 1966
1967 $266.6 u.s. debt in 1967
1968 $289.5 u.s. debt in 1968
1969 $278.1 u.s. debt in 1969
1970 $283.2 united states debt in 1970
1971 $303.0 united states debt in 1971
1972 $322.4 united states debt in 1972
1973 $340.9 united states debt in 1973
1974 $343.7 united states debt in 1974
1975 $394.7 united states debt in 1975
1976 $477.4 united states debt in 1976
1977 $549.1 united states debt in 1977
1978 $607.1 united states debt in 1978
1979 $640.3 united states debt in 1979
1980 $711.9 united states debt in 1980
1981 $789.4 united states debt in 1981
1982 $924.6 united states debt in 1982
1983 $1,137.3 united states debt in 1983
1984 $1,307.0 united states debt in 1984
1985 $1,507.3 united states debt in 1985
1986 $1,740.6 united states debt in 1986
1987 $1,889.8 united states debt in 1987
1988 $2,051.6 united states debt in 1988
1989 $2,190.7 united states debt in 1989
1990 $2,411.6 united states debt in 1990
1991 $2,689.0 united states debt in 1991
1992 $2,999.7 united states debt in 1992
1993 $3,248.4 united states debt in 1993
1994 $3,433.1 united states debt in 1994
1995 $3,604.4 united states debt in 1995
1996 $3,734.1 united states debt in 1996
1997 $3,772.3 united states debt in 1997
1998 $3,721.1 united states debt in 1998
1999 $3,632.4 united states debt in 1999
2000 $3,409.8 united states debt in 2000
2001 $3,319.6 united states debt in 2001
2002 $3,540.4 united states debt in 2002
2003 $3,913.4 united states debt in 2003
2004 $4,295.5 united states debt in 2003
2005 $4,592.2 united states debt in 2003
2006 $4,828.9 united states debt in 2003
2007 $5,035.1 united states debt in 2003
2008 $5,803.1 united states debt in 2003
2009 $7,544 united states debt in 2003
2010 $9,023 united states debt in 2003

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the current debt of the United States?

As of early 2023, the United States' national debt has surpassed $31 trillion. This figure represents the total amount of money borrowed by the federal government to cover expenditures that exceed its income. The debt is a cumulative amount that includes both public debt (money owed to investors outside the federal government) and intragovernmental holdings (government accounts investment). The U.S. Treasury provides regular updates on the exact figure.

How does the U.S. debt compare to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP)?

The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio has been rising significantly, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2023, the debt-to-GDP ratio is hovering around 120%, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Treasury. This means the national debt is larger than the total value of all goods and services produced by the U.S. economy in a year, indicating a high level of borrowing relative to economic output.

What are the main causes of the increase in U.S. debt?

The increase in U.S. debt is attributed to several factors, including large-scale tax cuts, significant spending on social security, Medicare, and defense, as well as emergency measures taken during economic crises. For instance, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 reduced federal revenues, while spending packages to combat the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic added trillions to the debt.

Who holds the majority of the U.S. debt?

The majority of the U.S. debt is held by a combination of domestic and international investors, including individuals, corporations, state and local governments, and foreign governments. As of 2023, foreign holders own about a third of the public debt, with countries like Japan and China being the largest foreign creditors. The rest is owned by American investors and various arms of the U.S. government itself.

What are the potential consequences of high U.S. national debt?

High levels of national debt can have several potential consequences. It may lead to higher interest rates as the government competes for capital with private borrowers. Over time, increased debt can crowd out private investment, potentially slowing economic growth. There's also the risk of reduced fiscal flexibility to respond to future crises and the possibility of increased taxes or reduced government services to manage the debt burden.

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Discussion Comments


The debt degree of young American adults -- those under the age of 35 -- has taken a steep dive in the last ten years or so, according to a brand new study. Normally, that would sound like great news for the economy. In fact, however, it indicates a very troubling craze. The reason that debt has fallen so sharply is because today's young adults have too few assets to consider taking on new loans.


You fail to take into account debt held by agencies and trust.


he means for a fiscal year I think.


The national debt is currently at over 12.5 trillion. When you adjust it for CPI, the chart shows debt has increased dramatically in last few years. Debt to GDP stands to be 100% in 2012, higher than the debt to GDP when Truman was president.


What a load of crap. When inflation is considered and when the debt is compared to GDP, the graph will look very different.


Why is associated press writer, Martin Crutsinger, stating today that deficit has topped trillion dollars for FIRST time?

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    • As of 2010, the U.S. debt was equal to about $29,000 for every person in the country.
      By: sborisov
      As of 2010, the U.S. debt was equal to about $29,000 for every person in the country.