A government’s budget deficit occurs when it spends more than the revenue it collects. The opposite, a budget surplus, occurs when a government spends less than the revenue it collects. In the case of a budget deficit, a government must borrow to make up for the deficit.
Place and move your cursor on the graph on the right to see the United States federal government’s budget deficit or budget surplus numbers in each year since 1901. A positive number indicates a budget surplus, while a negative number indicates a budget deficit. Since 2001, the United States federal government has run a budget deficit each year.