In 2011, in current year dollars, total government spending in the United States was $6,115,429,668,000. That included $2,516,666,590,000 in net state and local government spending and $3,598,763,078,000 in net federal government spending.
That year there were 121,084,000 households in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, which means that the $6,115,429,668,000 that government spent equaled 50,505.68 per household.
Median household income in 2011 was $50,054 in current-year dollars, according to the Census Bureau. So, government spending per household exceeded median household income by more than $450.
Government spending per full-time year-round worker in 2009, 2010 and 2011 also exceeded the average earnings for a full-time year-round worker in those years.
In 2011, there were 101,676,000 full-time year-round workers (including both private-sector and government workers), according to the Census Bureau. The $6,115,429,668,000 spent by government that year worked out to $60,146.25 for each one of those workers. By contrast, the average earnings of a full-time year-round worker in 2011 were only $57,150, according to the Census Bureau.
From fiscal 1992, the first year for which state and local finance data is available online from the Census Bureau, through 2008, the median household income exceeded what government spent per household. During that period, the average earnings of full-time year-round workers also exceeded what government spent per full-time year-round worker.
But from 2009 through 2011--the latest year for which state and local finance data is available from the Census Bureau--the combined annual spending of federal, state and local governments has equaled more per household than the median household income. It has also equaled more per full-time year-round worker than the average full-time year-round worker earned.
As recently as 2000, for example, federal, state and local governments spent $29,941.26 per household and the median household had an income of $41,990. At that time, median household income outstripped government spending by about 40 percent.
In 2009, government spent $50,763.10 per household and median household income was $49,777. In 2010, government spent $49,579.88 per household and median household income was $49,276. In 2011, government spent $50,505.68 per household and median household income was $50,054.
In 2011, government spending per household was about 101 percent of median household income.
Similarly, in 2000, government spending per full-time year-round worker was $31,976.73 and the mean earnings of a full-time year-round worker were $43,987. At that time, the average full-time year-round worker made almost 38 percent more than government spent per full-time year-round worker.
The $57,150 in earnings that full-time year-round workers averaged in 2011 was about 5 percent less than the $60,146.25 that government spent per full-time worker.
Although combined federal, state and local spending per household exceeded median household income in 2009, 2010 and 2011, inflation-adjusted combined federal, state and local spending actually trended slightly down in 2010 and 2011.
However, despite the two year downward trend from 2009 to 2011, real government spending was still 9.6 percent higher in 2011 than it was in 2008.
CNSNews.com determined net combined federal, state and local spending as follows: It took the total state and local expenditures reported by the Census Bureau for each year and subtracted from that number the “intergovernmental revenue” sent to state and local governments by the federal government. It then took the number for total federal outlays listed in the historical tables of the Office of Management Budget and subtracted from that the “intergovernmental expenditure” the Census Bureau said state and local government sent to the federal government. It then added the net number for state and local spending to the net number for federal spending to get the net total for federal, state and local spending combined.
To adjust that number for inflation, converting it into constant 2011 dollars, CNSNews.com rounded it to the nearest $10,000 and ran it through the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.
CNSNews.com compared the current-year amount of combined federal, state and local spending per household to the current-year median household income as reported on the Census Bureau’s historical income Table H-6. CNSNews.com used the data from the same table for the number of households in each year.
CNSNews.com took the number of full-time year-round workers and the mean income of year-round full-time workers (in current year dollars) from the Census Bureau’s historical income Table P-43.