Welcome to the 2024 Government 10-K

Latest update on April 12, 2024

US public companies are required to file an annual 10-K report with a summary of finances, key metrics, risk factors, and more. This report uses the 10-K format to cover these same topics for US federal, state, and local governments combined. It is intended to foster a more constructive and reasoned public debate by providing an authoritative and comprehensive set of data from government sources. USAFacts compiled the information, but it's up to you to judge whether government is efficient and effective.

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Across the United States, more than 90,000 government entities at the federal, state, and local levels make decisions on how to spend money to improve American lives. These governments are entrusted to recirculate tax revenues into public programs designed to support the populace such as Medicare, public schools and universities, food assistance, and the military.

Information on this spending isn’t always readily available — government data reporting isn’t standardized across entities. Taxpayers are shareholders in American democracy, and access to data on government decision-making makes accountability possible. This 10-K report is designed to bring data on government finances directly to the very people who stand to be impacted by them.

Due to the pace of data reporting, only now, in 2024, is it possible to get a comprehensive look at 2021 government finances. This was a year that brought a new administration to the White House and unprecedented challenges to a nation trying to recover from the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic. The finances reveal that after a 2020 peak deficit of $3.1 trillion, the combined deficit receded to $1.5 trillion in 2021 as governments brought in $7.6 trillion in revenues and spent $9.1 trillion. Within those numbers is a deep well of insights into government spending and the associated outcomes.

The economy began to recover from the initial effects of COVID-19.

In 2021, many key economic indicators that had been impacted by COVID-19 reversed course. Gross domestic product increased 6% when adjusted for inflation. Overall employment rose 3%, while wages increased by 4% after inflation adjustment. The S&P 500 grew by 21% year over year and ended 2021 at a record high.

This economic rebound set many of these indicators back on a course of growth that had persisted for much of the previous decade. When adjusted for inflation, GDP had increased 26% since 2011, and the S&P 500 increased to more than three times its size. Total employment grew 7% in that time despite the working-age population increasing by 3%.

Individual income increased, especially for the rich.

Overall individual income grew by $1.8 trillion from 2020 to 2021, a 15% increase year over year. The number of Americans filing taxes with incomes over $50,000 increased at every income level, while the amount with incomes under $50,000 decreased.

The income growth was mostly to the benefit of wealthier Americans — 87% went to people making $200,000 or more annually, and over half went to people making $1,000,000 or more. The income millionaire demographic is growing — up by 36% in 2021 — and those earners are earning more and more.

Just what that means for the nation is up for discussion, and this report aims to support those discussions with comprehensive data.

Basic needs got more expensive.

The Government 10-K also includes data on how much Americans are spending on fundamental needs such as housing, education, and everyday goods and services. During the 10 years covered in the report, it became increasingly expensive to pay for these needs.

Both homebuyers and renters dealt with housing costs rising faster than inflation over the course of the decade, including in the final year of the report. The average annual cost of undergraduate education rose 18% from 2011 to 2021, after adjusting for inflation.

Meanwhile, the annual inflation rate surpassed the Federal Reserve’s target of 2.0% in 2021, rising from 1.2% in 2020 to 4.7%. We now know that even higher rates were on their way in 2022.

As it becomes more expensive to live and learn in the US, Americans can use the data in this report to understand the economic factors shaping their lives.

Our ever-changing population faced life-or-death health challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s indelible mark is clear throughout this report. In 2021, 461,000 people in the US lost their lives to the virus, making it the nation’s third leading cause of death. Long-term public health challenges persisted, as well, including a 25% year-over-year increase in deaths from synthetic narcotics such as fentanyl and a 9% increase in firearms deaths.

With years of elevated death rates and decreased birth rates, population growth fell to 0.1% in 2021, the lowest rate since the nation’s founding. Since 2021, growth from immigration has exceeded natural population growth by nearly 3-to-1.

As the nation’s population has expanded, albeit at a slower pace, its composition has changed. The American people have become more racially and ethnically diverse, more educated, and gotten older. They’ve also shifted their living circumstances, living in smaller households with more diverse family structures.

These selected insights are only a fraction of what’s available in this report. The data found within the Government 10-K helps to tell the story of the American experience at a moment in time. Inside is the same data governments may use to inform policy, advocates may leverage to influence lawmakers, and average Americans may depend upon to make life decisions. But without the people who comprise the American public, it’s just numbers.

USAFacts has compiled this data; it’s up to you to decide what it means for you.