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US continues trend of lower deficits

WASHINGTON — The US government’s monthly budget returned to deficit in May after a big April surplus. But the overall imbalance is far smaller than it was the same period last year, putting the country on track for the lowest annual deficit in six years.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday the May deficit totaled $130 billion after a surplus of $106.9 billion in April, a month when the government usually runs surpluses because of a flood of tax revenues.

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For the first eight months of this budget year, the deficit totals $436.4 billion, down 30 percent from $626.3 billion for the same period in 2013. It was the smallest imbalance since 2008. The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a deficit of $492 billion for the full budget year ending Sept. 30.

The government has run a deficit in May, a month when there are no major tax payments, for 59 out of the past 60 years. This year’s May deficit was slightly lower than the $138.7 billion deficit in May 2013.

The improvement this year reflects a stronger economy and labor market, which translates into more income and higher tax revenues. The government has also trimmed spending to gain control of soaring deficits in recent years.

Revenues this year totaled $1.93 trillion through May, up 7.5 percent from the same period a year ago. Government spending over this period totaled $2.37 trillion, a drop of 2.3 percent from a year ago.

In 2008, the government recorded a deficit of $458.6 billion, which was the record high at the time. But that record was soon eclipsed as the government ran annual deficits surpassing $1 trillion for the next four years. Those deficits reflected a deep recession, which reduced tax revenue, and higher government spending to stabilize the financial system and pay benefits to people who had lost jobs.

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