Ten Charts Essential to Understanding the Federal Debt

Since April 2010, the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative has published several reports explaining the medium-and long-term fiscal challenges facing the federal government. With stagnating economic conditions and the passage of new legislation, especially the Budget Control Act of 2011, the outlook for the deficit and debt has changed considerably over the past six months.

We have created ten charts that illustrate how the choices made over the last 10 years contributed to our nation's debt and the challenges currently facing the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

10 Essential Fiscal Charts (PDF)

A print version of the PDF is available here.

  1. Ten Years of Debt Drivers
  2. Debt Growth by Policy
  3. Long-Term Unemployment
  4. Federal Spending & Revenues
  5. Debt Projections
  6. Budget Control Act Spending Caps
  7. The Joint Select Committee
  8. The Automatic Sequester
  9. Debt Ceiling Scenarios
  10. The Debt Limit & the American Jobs Act

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Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies

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Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.