By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government posted a $145 billion budget deficit for November, down from $209 billion a year ago, the Treasury Department said on Thursday, but the decline was largely due to calendar shifts of federal benefit payments.
Without these adjustments, Treasury said November receipts would have fallen 6% from November 2019, while outlays would have increased 11%, which would have led to a $207 billion November deficit.
Some $62 billion worth of November benefit payments were shifted into October because November started on a weekend, while the November 2019 data showed $48 billion in December 2019 benefits were paid in November because December started on a weekend.
November receipts as reported totaled $220 billion versus $225 billion a year earlier, a decline of 3%, while November outlays as reported totaled $365 billion, compared to $434 billion a year earlier, a 16% drop.
For the first two months of the 2021 fiscal year started Oct. 1, Treasury reported a federal deficit of $429 billion, compared with $343 billion for the first two months of fiscal 2020.
Treasury officials said this was driven by a 9% increase in outlays to $887 billion due to spending on healthcare and coronavirus rescue programs and on unemployment compensation. Receipts for the year-to-date fell 3% to $457 billion.
The latest Treasury results follow a record full-year deficit of $3.132 trillion for fiscal 2020, which ended Sept. 30, more than tripling the previous year’s shortfall due to COVID-19 aid spending.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Andrea Ricci)