U.S.: National Debt, by year
YearNational debt,
in billion USD
  • Region: United States
  • Time period: 1990 to 2023
  • Published: Sep 2023

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Mar 28, 2024 | Published by: Statistico

Rapid Increase in National Debt from 1990 to 2023

U.S. public debt experienced a significant escalation, jumping from 3,233.31 billion U.S. dollars in 1990 to 33,167.33 billion U.S. dollars by 2023, marking an increase of nearly 926%.

Largest Annual Increase Observed in 2021

The year 2021 saw the highest year-over-year growth, with the national debt rising by 2,483.53 billion U.S. dollars from 2020's 26,945.39 billion to 28,428.92 billion U.S. dollars.

Notable Growth Rate Since 2000

Since the year 2000, the U.S. national debt has more than quintupled, growing from 5,674.18 billion U.S. dollars to 33,167.33 billion U.S. dollars, highlighting a substantial increase in borrowing.

Doubling of Debt in Less Than a Decade

The national debt more than doubled in less than a decade, from 10,024.72 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 to over 20,244.90 billion U.S. dollars by 2017.

Minimal Increase in the Late 1990s

Between 1997 and 1999, the U.S. witnessed one of its minimal increases in debt, with a modest growth from 5,413.15 billion U.S. dollars to 5,656.27 billion U.S. dollars, reflecting a period of relative fiscal restraint.

Acceleration in Debt Accumulation in the 21st Century

The 21st century marked a significant acceleration in debt accumulation, with the debt increasing by over 27,493.15 billion U.S. dollars from 2000 to 2023, indicating a trend towards higher levels of borrowing and spending.

Impact of Economic Crises on Debt

Economic crises notably impacted the national debt, with a sharp increase following the 2008 financial crisis, as debt climbed from 10,024.72 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 to 11,909.83 billion U.S. dollars in 2009, and continued to rise in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2021.

Steady Growth in Early 2000s

The early 2000s saw a steady growth in national debt, with an annual increase ranging from 300 to 600 billion U.S. dollars, showcasing a period of consistent yet moderate increase in borrowing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much did the U.S public debt increase from 1990 to 2023?

The U.S public debt saw a towering rise from 3,233.31 billion U.S. dollars in 1990 to 33,167.33 billion U.S. dollars by 2023, representing a colossal growth of approximately 926%.

Which year had the biggest annual increase in the U.S national debt?

The year 2021 recorded the largest annual increase in the U.S. national debt, with a surge of 2,483.53 billion U.S. dollars.

Terms and Definitions

Public debt, also referred to as government debt or national debt, is the amount of money that a country’s government has borrowed, typically in the form of securities, bills, or bonds. It is essentially the total financial obligation of the national government accumulated over the years.

U.S. Notes, also known as Legal Tender Notes or United States paper money, are a type of currency that was first issued during the U.S. Civil War. They were originally redeemable for gold or silver but are now used for transactions within the economy.

Securities refer to financial investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or derivatives that have a monetary value and can be traded. They are used by governments and companies as a way to raise funds from the public.

Bills are short-term debt instruments issued by the government to meet immediate financial needs. They usually mature in less than a year and are sold at a discount to their face value, which is returned upon maturity.

Bonds are long-term debt securities issued by governments or corporations to raise capital. Bondholders lend a specific amount of money for a particular period of time in exchange for regular interest payments.

Interest refers to the cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. It is generally paid periodically over the duration of the loan or debt.

The national government is the political organization that has centralized political, legislative, and jurisdictional power within a country. It is responsible for the operation and regulation of the state on a national level.

Monetary value is the financial worth or price assigned to a good, service, or an asset. It indicates how much a potential buyer is willing to pay in exchange for it.

A financial obligation refers to the responsibility to fulfill the terms of a contract, particularly one involving a financial transaction or installment. For governments, it includes paying off debts and fulfilling other responsibilities like providing public services.
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