U.S. Deficit Shrinks Unexpectedly to $37 Billion for March

The Treasury Department today announced a deficit of $36.9 billion for March. 

After clocking in at $193.5 billion in February, this latest improvement came as a welcome surprise. Analysts had expected only a slight narrowing to $133 billion. 

Overall March receipts (inflow) totaled $216 billion, while total outlays clocked in at $253 billion. As might be expected, individual income taxes added the most to March's s receipts ($71 billion). For the same period, the Social Security Administration was the biggest spender (also $71 billion), followed by the Department of Health and Human Services ($60 billion) and the Department of Defense ($45 billion).

Source: Treasury Department. 

From a slightly longer-term perspective, the fiscal year-to-date deficit clocked in at $413 billion. That's well below last March's $600 billion fiscal-year-to-date deficit. The country's fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

This latest report's fiscal year-to-date improvement is two-fold: Receipts are up to $1.32 trillion, compared to $1.20 trillion, while spending is down to $1.73 trillion from last year's $1.80 trillion bill.

Looking ahead, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts the annual deficit will be $649 billion when the budget year ends on Sept. 30, and down to $564 billion by Sept. 30, 2015.

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