Government Spending Per Household Exceeds Median Household Income

The combined spending of federal, state and local governments per American household actually exceeded the median household income for 2010. In fiscal 2010, according to numbers published by the Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget, net spending by all levels of government in the US was over $5.9 trillion.

Terence Jeffrey
Sumner Books

As reported in my new book, “Completely Predictable,” the combined spending of federal, state and local governments per American household actually exceeded the median household income for 2010, which is the latest year for which all relevant government data are available.

In fiscal 2010, according to numbers published by the Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), net spending by all levels of government in the United States was $5,942,988,401,000. That equaled $50,074 for each one of the 118,682,000 households in the country.

In that same year, according to the Census Bureau, the median household income was $49,445.

That means total net government spending per household ($50,074) exceeded median household income (49,445) by $629.

Government in the United States, of course, has not always spent more per year than the median household earns. As recently as 2000, the relationship between government spending and household income was dramatically different.

Data from the Census Bureau and the OMB show that in that year net spending by all levels of government was $3,239,913,876,000. That equaled $29,941 for each of the nation’s then 108,209,000 households. In 2000, the median household income was $41,990.

Thus, between 2000 and 2010, government in this country went from spending $12,049 less than the median household income to spending $629 more.

This is how I derived these startling numbers:

First, I took the figure for each year’s total state and local government spending (published by the Census Bureau) and subtracted from it the money that state and local governments had received from the federal government. That left the net total of state and local spending for the year.

Then I took the total federal government spending for the year (published by OMB) and subtracted from it the money the Census Bureau said state and local governments had sent to the federal government. That left net total federal spending.

I then added the net total of state and local spending to the net total of federal spending to get the net total of all government spending for the year.

I divided that number by the number of households in the country that year (published by the Census Bureau) to get total net government spending per household.

In 2000, according to the Census Bureau, state and local governments spent a total of $1,746,942,699,000 and received $291,949,750,000 from the federal government, leaving net total state and local spending at $1,454,992,949,000.

The federal government spent a total of $1,788,950,000,000 in 2000, according to OMB, and received $4,029,073,000 from the states, leaving the net total of federal spending at 1,784,920,927,000.

The net total state and local spending of $1,454,992,949,000 and the net total federal spending of $1,784,920,927,000 combined for a net total of $3,239,913,876,000 in all government spending in 2000. Dividing by the 108,209,000 households the Census Bureau said were in the United States that year equals $29,941 -- or $12,049 less than the 2000 median household income of $41,990.

Similarly, in 2010, according to the Census Bureau, state and local governments spent a total of $3,114,846,571,000 and received $623,732,004,000 from the federal government, leaving net total state and local spending for that year at $2,491,114,567,000.

The federal government spent a total of $3,456,213,000,000 in 2010, according to OMB, and received $4,339,166,000 from the states, leaving the net total of federal spending at $3,451,873,834,000.

The total net state and local spending of $2,491,114,567,000 and the total net federal spending of $3,451,873,834,000 combined for a total net $5,942,988,401,000 in government spending in 2010. Divided by the 118,682,000 households the Census Bureau said were in the United States that year, that equals about $50,074 -- or $629 more than the 2010 median household income of $49,445.

I calculated the total net government spending per household in 2010 for my new book, “Completely Predictable.” I think the number demonstrates how completely predictable the fiscal crisis our country faces has become.

A nation whose government spends per family more than the typical family earns is on the road to ruin.

To schedule an interview with the author, email tpj225@gmail.com or call Anthony Zurcher at (310) 337-7003.

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