The US federal government ran a bigger deficit in January, pushing the imbalance so far this budget year up 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday the deficit for January stood at $17.5 billion compared to $10.3 billion a year ago, according to ABC News online. For the first four months of the budget year that began in October, the deficit widened to $194.2 billion from $182.8 billion during the same period last year.
The budget deficit has gradually narrowed since 2012, which was the fourth straight year in which it topped the $1 trillion mark. The improvement reflects the country's economic recovery from recession. The government is seeing higher tax revenues as people go back to work and smaller payments for safety-net programs such as unemployment assistance. It also represents efforts by Congress to control deficits through higher taxes and across-the-board spending cuts.
Last year's deficit benefited from a $24 billion special payment Freddie Mac made for the support it received during the financial crisis. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts a deficit of $468 billion for the full 2015 budget year, 3.1 percent lower than in 2014.
For the current budget year, government revenues total $1.05 trillion, an increase of 8.7 percent from the same period a year ago. Government spending totals $1.24 trillion, up 8.3 percent over last year.
The deficit in 2014 narrowed to $483.3 billion from $680.2 billion in 2013. Before that, the deficits soared to record heights as the government grappled with revenue losses from the Great Recession and increased spending in such areas as unemployment benefits and food stamps.