USA Facts

USA Facts, an organization funded by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has published its annual “10K” on government. The pdf report is over 200 pages long, due in large part to the fact that “The United States of America (US) is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district of Washington, D.C., five major and various minor insular areas, as well as over 90,000 local governments, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special district governments. At 3.8 million square miles and with over 323 million people, the US is the world’s third-largest country by total area and the third most populous.”

Key takeaways:

  • “In 2016, Social Security payments were $916 billion or 16% of our Government’s aggregate expenditures.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, Social Security payments increased $360 billion or 66 percent, while Medicare payments went up $305 billion or 82 percent. Both of these figures went up due to a growing elderly population as well as increasing payments and costs. During that period, the American population 65 years and older went up 12.1 million or 33 percent.
  • In 2016, federal, state and local governments combined took in $5.097 trillion, up 26 percent from $4.04 trillion in 2006. Spending during that period increased nearly $800 billion more, with $5.852 trillion in expenditures in 2016, which is up 43 percent from the $4.082 trillion spent in 2006.
  • American households are earning, spending, and saving a bit more. They’re also less likely to own their homes.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, the median annual wage has increased 2 percent since 2006, from $36,210 to $37,040. The average household increased spending just 1 percent, from $92,606 to $93,937. The disposable income savings rate has also increased from 9 percent to 13 percent.
  • Natural disaster costs increased 256 percent in the past decade even as the disaster declarations decreased 28 percent. Per disaster, costs increased 382% over the past decade. Costs, on an absolute and per disaster basis, have increased over the past decade for floods, fires, and other disasters.
  • Overall crime, arrests, and imprisonments are going down, but there’s been a recent uptick in violent crime.”

The extensive report is unique not only for the amount of data but its method of using standard accounting practices to analyze government spending and costs.