The U.S. federal budget deficit narrowed in November, helped by a strengthening economy that boosted tax receipts during the month, Treasury Department data showed on Wednesday.
Washington spent $56.8 billion more than it took in last month, which was less than half the deficit in November of 2013. It was also narrower than analysts' expectations for a $72.5 billion deficit.
After suffering from years of stagnant growth, America's economy has appeared to rev its engines this year even as the global picture has grown more troubled. Hiring by U.S. employers has picked up and the government is no longer engaged in the harsh austerity that reduced growth in 2013 through tax hikes and spending cuts.
In a briefing with reporters, a Treasury official pointed out that the timing of some government benefit payments made the drop in the deficit look larger. For example, checks paying for things like elderly healthcare went out in October rather than November, making expenditures last month look smaller than normal.
Still, even after accounting for the calendar shifts, the official said the deficit narrowed during the month.
The report pointed to a stronger economy as a reason for the decline. Receipts for individual income and payroll taxes rose 3 percent in November from a year earlier.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Paul Simao)