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May 12, 2021, 2:04 p.m. EDT

U.S. budget deficit widens to record $1.9 trillion for seven months

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Greg Robb

The numbers: The U.S. federal budget deficit widened to a record $1.9 trillion in the first seven months of the fiscal year, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. This is up from a $1.5 trillion deficit over the same period last year.

Spending was higher as the government continued to support Americans impacted by the pandemic.

The deficit was $226 billion in April, down from $738 billion in the same month of 2020. Last April, the government sent out the first round of COVID stimulus checks to Americans.

What happened: For the first seven months of the 2021 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, receipts were up 16% while outlays rose 22%.

In April, receipts were up 82% while outlays were down 32%. Last year, the government delayed all tax payments until July. This year, only individual tax payments were delayed.

Big picture: The U.S. budget deficit this year is expected to exceed last year’s record $3 trillion deficit. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent think tank, said it expects the deficit this year to total $3.4 trillion. Over the next 10 years, the group projects a deficit of $16.6 trillion. At the same time, the national debt is seen growing to $37.4 trillion from $28 trillion currently.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last month the federal budget deficit is on an unsustainable path.

“As a nation, we will have to get back to a sustainable path…but this is not the time to prioritize that concern,” he said during a discussion at the Washington Economic Club.

Market reaction: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y +1.97% rose to 1.676 on Wednesday on the back of strong inflation readings for April. Stocks /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.45% /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.18% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.18% were sharply lower.

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