US budget deficit up 14.8% for first 5 months of fiscal year

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stands up after testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the FY'21 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stands up after testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the FY'21 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. budget deficit through the first five months of this budget year is up 14.8% from the same period a year ago, keeping the country on track to record its first $1 trillion deficit since 2012.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday in its monthly budget report that the deficit from October through February totaled $624.5 billion, $80.3 billion higher than the same period a year ago.

The deficit for February was $235.3 billion, up a slight 0.6% from February of last year. The government has recorded a deficit in February for 54 of the past 66 years.

The deficit so far this year reflects government spending that has grown by 9.2% compared to the first five months of the 2019 budget year while revenues are up a smaller 6.9%.

When President Donald Trump sent Congress his new budget last month he projected that the deficit for this year would hit $1.08 trillion but will then decline for the rest of this decade. By contrast, the Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that the deficit will remain above $1 trillion over the next decade.

These forecasts were made before the coronavirus spread to the United States, a development that is likely to trigger sharp declines in tax revenue and increased government spending to deal with the impact.

The government has not run deficits above $1 trillion except for a four-year period ending in 2012 when a deep recession reduced revenues and pushed spending higher.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that the Trump administration is considering a plan to delay the April 15 tax deadline for many individuals and businesses.