Pandemic Payouts: The Cost of COVID-19 to the United States

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Most Americans are well aware that federal spending during the COVID-19 pandemic has been very costly. Yet, are we aware of just how costly the government response to the 2019 Coronavirus has been? Furthermore, what is the federal budget for these expenditures? As our visualization shows, a larger percentage of current spending as of February 28, 2021 spans federal agencies focused on the health, treasury, and social security of Americans.

US response to pandemic

As of February 28, 2021:

  • In response to COVID-19, $2.07 trillion of the $2.96 trillion in total budgetary resources have been paid out.
  • Of the $2.96 trillion budget available to be spent, only $2.42 trillion have a promise to be spent, with a leftover amount of $540 billion which has no promise to be spent.
  • Around 30.5% of COVID-19 spending has gone to the maintenance and sustainability of small businesses as shown by the $902.5 billion granted to the Small Business Administration.
  • Almost 46.1% of COVID-19 spending has gone to agencies such as the Department of Treasury and Department of Labor to undergird the loss of U.S. salaries and wages.
  • COVID-19 spending for the Environmental Protection Agency accounts for less than 0.0002% of the total U.S. federal budgetary resources for FY 2021.
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For our data presented, COVID-19 spending amounts represent total outlays of COVID-19 supplemental appropriations as reported by federal agencies to the official open data source of federal spending information. From these spending amounts, we were able to determine the percentages of total budgetary resources per agency category. As a note, our data accounts for spending as of February 28, 2021. Given that, COVID-19 spending amount could be higher than reflected in this article at the date of publication.

Unsurprising to most, the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic looms well above the trillions as it relates to federal spending. A large percentage of current spending is shared between U.S. agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Treasury, and the Small Business Association. Expenditures from these agencies alone account for nearly $1.76 trillion of a proposed $2.1 trillion spend and $2.2 trillion of the $3.0 trillion budget based on the total U.S. federal budgetary resources for FY 2021.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal shutdowns threatened the survival of many small businesses. As a result, around $674.4  billion of current spending has gone to the maintenance and sustainability of small businesses through the Small Business Administration. This government elected to further support Americans through economic stimuli resulting in nearly $1.3 trillion budgeted for agencies such as the Department of Treasury and Department of Labor. Interestingly, budgeted spending for the Environmental Protection Agency currently accounts for a minuscule $7.32 billion, which is just more than a third of the JFK Center for Performing Arts budget. Yet, this may change as FY2021 continues with the U.S. placing more emphasis on climate change since the Biden Administration began.

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As the U.S. continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through the financing of various federal agencies, Americans can better understand expenditures through various open data sources. Being aware that to date, the government may have a leftover amount of $540 billion of the FY 2021 federal budget with no promise to be spent, how do you think the government should allocate the leftover funds? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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