U.S. Ran $139 Billion Deficit In November -- Update

By Kate Davidson Features Dow Jones Newswires

The federal budget deficit widened slightly in November as government spending exceeded tax collections, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

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The budget shortfall rose to $139 billion last month, compared with a $137 billion deficit in November 2016, Treasury said. That tracks with an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, which had predicted a $134 billion deficit last month.

Receipts rose 4% while outlays grew 3% last month compared with the same period a year earlier. But overall spending was still greater than what the government collected in revenues, due in part to higher interest costs on government debt and a surge in spending on disaster relief spending by the Department of Homeland Security, the CBO said.

Through the first two months of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the overall budget gap was about 11% larger compared with the same period a year earlier, Treasury said.

Declining government revenues and long-term costs associated with an aging population, including higher Social Security and Medicare spending, are expected to continue pushing up deficits over the coming decades.

The latest figures come as lawmakers near completion on a major tax code overhaul that nonpartisan scorekeepers in Congress say would add roughly $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Congressional leaders are also working on a two-year budget agreement with President Donald Trump that would raise spending above the levels, known as the sequester, established in a 2011 budget fight. Deficit hawks warn the move would worsen the country's long-term debt trajectory.

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As a percentage of gross domestic product, the deficit totaled 3.5% in fiscal year 2017, up from 3.2% in fiscal year 2016, Treasury said last month.

Write to Kate Davidson at kate.davidson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 12, 2017 14:40 ET (19:40 GMT)